Prisoners moved after Fiscal Court meeting
(Clinton, KY August 12, 2015) - In an early morning meeting, the Hickman County Fiscal Court voted to close the troubled Hickman County Detention Center. Local prisoners were immediately taken to the Fulton County Detention Center. State inmates were divided among other regional jails.
The Detention Center's problems came to light toward the end of Hickman County Judge Greg Pruitt's term when talk began of closing the facility. New County Judge Kenny Wilson promised to give the jail and its new jailer, Chad Barber, a chance to turn the slide around. That slide has continued. The facility that can hold as many as 80 prisoners was down to 25 inmates. Plagued by low prisoner population, the facility has struggled to support itself. Last month, the costs of overtime topped $5000.
An investigation of the jail by the Department of Corrections and the Kentucky State Police may be that final straw. A Clinton city employee, Chris McGee, was fired for insubordination and breaking city policies. Anonymous sources to the Hickman County Gazette told that paper that McGee allowed prisoners to meet a woman for sex while out on work release. Prisoners were placed on lock down at the end of July. While allegations of drugs at the Detention Center continue to swirl, no arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.
A person who attended the Fiscal Court meeting reported that Jailer Chad Barber's offer of resignation was refused by the Fiscal Court. The question of the what the proper salary for Barber, a jailer without a jail remains to be answered. Carlisle County, which has no jail, pays its elected jailer $25,000 yearly.
We reported in April 2014 that "The three member Hickman County Fiscal Court didn't delay in passing a motion that grants the higher salary, but will lower it should the jail close." Jail Gets Reprieve
The Court this morning agreed to leave the emergency 911 dispatch center in the Detention Center building.
Former Hickman County Jailer Chad Frizzell wrote in an April 11, 2014 letter to the editor:
"Quite frankly, our county isn't large enough population-wise to support a full-service jail. The good news is that means that we have a relatively low violent crime rate in Hickman County. The tragic news is that if the fiscal court elects to close, it will affect at least 19 families that are represented by a county employee or contract employee. In a county our size, we have to realize that 19 jobs are enough to impact the local economy, not to mention the payroll taxes gained by the city and county governments.
Furthermore, are we ready to swallow the fact that we will be paying a $168,000 annual debt service ($1.6 million) on an empty county-owned building for the next 10 years?.."
The other shoe of jail closing has dropped with a thud first thing on a Wednesday morning on an end of summer day. It is the end of an era for this small rural county.