The Scott County jail has an 86-bed capacity. On Friday, 122 inmates were housed there, putting the facility at 41 percent above capacity.
The jail, which has been in operation since 1991, had 161 inmates earlier this month.
Overflow inmates are given a mat to lie down in one of the 11 large jail cells, or pods, and a bag to keep their toiletries together, jail officials said. When a bed becomes available, usually the inmate that has gone without a bed the longest gets the vacant one.
“We’ve got some pods that could be an 11-man pod, they’ve got 16 or 17 (inmates) in them,” Scott County Jailer Derran Broyles said.
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There are numerous reasons for the overcrowding, Broyles said, including the county’s explosive growth, its proximity to Lexington and some of Lexington’s crime spreading into Scott County, people with mental health issues without other adequate facility to go to and crime brought into the county via Interstates 64 and 75.
“It’s not like we’ve got the Mississippi River bringing in a bunch of water. We’ve got just a whole bunch of little streams and creeks,” said Scott County Chief Deputy Jailer Michael Humphrey.
There are other nearby jails that Scott County inmates can be sent to if there is absolutely no room for more inmates, Broyles said. Those are in Grant, Hardin and Meade counties.
However, using those jails can be a burden to taxpayers and agencies such as the Scott County Sheriff’s Office because the county is charged with transporting inmates back and forth between long distances for court dates, Broyles said.
Overcrowded jails are a statewide issue. According to a weekly jail report provided by the Kentucky Department of Corrections, the county jails in Bell, Bourbon, Boyle, Carroll, Johnson, Laurel, Leslie, Lincoln, Logan, Madison, Mason, Meade, Montgomery, Perry, Powell, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Russell, and Whitley were above 150 percent capacity as of Dec. 8.
The same reports also show the Scott County jail at capacity as far back as Aug. 2011.
Statewide, Gov. Matt Bevin created a council to to study the state’s criminal code and suggest improvements for the 2017 General Assembly to consider, including how the state punishes people.
The jail’s overcrowding issue is not being overlooked. Scott County Judge-Executive George Lusby said within next the next two years, the Scott County Fiscal Court will start planning for another jail.
“They need it,” he said. “There’s no question. They need it.”