Rodney Ballard will have his work cut out for him as director of Fayette County's troubled jail, but his resume suggests he knows what he's taking on.
The last four years Ballard has worked as deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Corrections, overseeing inspection of county jails statewide; for almost a decade before that he was second in command at the Kenton County jail.
Running a jail is never an easy job and particularly not in these times when budgets are tight. In addition, the recent history of Fayette County's jail presents a challenge. Both inmates and employees have sued the jail, it's been the subject of a federal investigation and two studies last year found that, not surprisingly, morale was very low among the staff.
Ron Bishop, the director since 2004, retired last summer and former jailer Ray Sabbatine has served as interim director since.
Ballard said he'd be "boots on the ground" at the jail next week, spending his first few days meeting the staff and getting oriented. After that, he promised Mayor Jim Gray his next task will be to develop a plan for operating the jail that includes "protecting the constitutional rights of both the inmates and the staff."
That's a reassuring priority, one that should serve the community well.