Boyle jail population drops below 300

Published 10:21 am Saturday, December 9, 2017

Boyle County Jailer Barry Harmon is cautiously optimistic about some improving numbers at the Boyle County Detention Center.

The population of the jail dropped below 300 for the first time in a year Friday morning, Harmon told members of the Boyle-Mercer Joint Jail Committee. On top of that, recidivism rates appear to be improving.

Overall recidivism — the percentage of inmates who are jailed after having been jailed previously — is at 67.9 percent from Dec. 6, 2016, to Dec. 6, 2017, according to statistics provided by Harmon. That’s a better rate than usual, he explained.

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The recidivism rate for female inmates is about 67.4 percent over that time period, while the rate for male inmates is about 68.1 percent, according to Harmon’s statistics.

Harmon said the jail population dropped by a few more throughout the day Friday, putting it several below 300.

The jail population always dips in December, he noted — last December it was down as low as 219 one day. While the population is likely to increase again in 2018, Harmon said the steady decrease he’s seen since it peaked at more than 410 in the summer months is a good sign.

Harmon credited some of the shrink to the new intensive outpatient (IOP) program being run for former Boyle and Mercer inmates by the Shepherd’s House.

“I think the IOP makes a factor in that, and the rocket docket that our attorneys have started … that could be affecting some of it,” he said.

The rocket docket program — which fast-tracks certain drug cases so defendants can be sentenced and ultimately released sooner — in Boyle County began in late September. The IOP program has been growing since it launched on Feb. 27. It lets inmates who qualify leave the jail as long as they are participating in the program, which requires them to find work or do community service, and provides them with drug counseling and support.

The Boyle County Detention Center, which houses inmates for Boyle and Mercer counties, has a rated capacity of 220 “beds,” but regularly tips the scales at more than 350 inmates. The counties are in the process of conducting a jail assessment study to determine how best to limit the growing number of inmates and control costs.

Harmon said just as he usually sees a dip in the jail population in December, he also usually sees a spike in January and February, when for whatever reason, it seems a large number of defendants wind up beginning serving sentences. He was hesitant to read too much into this year’s dip.

“This trend — I don’t know, maybe it’s just an annual thing,” he said.