Three finalists chosen for Boyle-Mercer jail assessment

Published 12:33 pm Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Boyle-Mercer Joint Jail Committee has named three companies as finalists to help the counties develop a plan for a new jail facility.

The committee will conduct interviews with Carter Goble Lee Companies (CGL), Brandstetter Carroll Inc. and HDR Inc. at 1 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Mercer County Fiscal Court room. Each company will get 45 minutes.

“They best addressed their understanding of what we’re trying to do,” said Boyle County Judge Executive Harold McKinney.

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The company that is chosen will help the counties decide what to do with the Boyle County Detention Center. Options include building onto or renovating the existing facility; or building a new jail.

Built in 1998, the Boyle County Detention Center has 220 beds but typically houses over 350 inmates a day. When it was initially built, the jail was meant to include an area for juveniles — a concept being explored around the state at that time, Jailer Barry Harmon said.

“There’s 12 jails in the area like ours,” Harmon said, and those other jails are facing the same issue. Based on the design of the existing facility, there is limited visibility. As a result, more employees are needed than might otherwise be needed with a different design.

There’s also a need for space for inmates with mental health issues, as well as others with drug addiction problems.

After the meeting, Mercer County Attorney Ted Dean and Boyle County Attorney Lynne Dean said no decisions have been made to say if a new jail will be built; a new jail is just one of the options being considered. At this time, they said, they are looking at what can be done to better house the inmates.

Lynne Dean said treatment is something that will have to be addressed at the facility, no matter what route they take in the future. HDR, one of the potential consulting firms, has a psychologist on their team, she said.

“They understand we have drug addicts who aren’t getting treatment until we get them to jail, but we also have people who are just criminals. We have to treat them differently,” Dean said.

The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) is also visiting the jail to develop an assessment of the facility. It will take 60-90 days for the assessment to be completed. The consultant chosen will also have to work with the assessment given by the NIC, McKinney said.