Time to enact jail reforms is now

Published 3:58 pm Monday, December 17, 2018

No more the ‘’’shame at Fourth and Main,” and that includes the same shame at South Main in Mercer. The jail report said it all. YOU, the voters in Boyle County, said it at the polls. They remain under the microscope. A change is demanded.

First, recommendations in both chapter 2 & 3 of the report must be implemented by the 50th Judiciate. Either this or resign, simple as that. Dr. Allen Beck said it when he referred to a car with four flat tires: fixing just one tire does not make things better. Change or get out the way! The Feds come next.

Second, the current jail must go … little room for argument there. Renovation is out as good options for this property are limited. Should we continue the relationship with the state to house inmates? Do they contribute to a new facility?

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Let’s begin with a proven system of success: Portugal. They/we no longer criminalize drug use/addiction. They/we rehabilitate them. Rehabilitation not incarceration. Prosecutors in Philadelphia and other places in America are taking these steps. Every drug user/addict is

mentally ill. Let’s help them! Let’s help their families! Let’s save the taxpayer BIG money.

Use existing alternatives to jail NOW. Our 50th Judiciate should use them. Our local police and sheriff departments should use them.

Say NO to building a 700+ bed prison. Say NO to building a 450 bed prison.

Secure a site and build a 250 bed facility, keeping state inmates at 100. Currently, our 50th Judicial District CAN keep jail numbers in check without increased threat to community. With this new jail, we build a “campus” detox/treatment/training facility (recommended in the jail study) serving 100 people at any one time for treatment of substance abuse/mental illness.

There are funding sources out there for a portion or all of these services and facilities. House at this location a plethora of support and community based services. Make space available to programs like ASAP and others. Obtain certifications from CARF and Medicaid. Design this “campus” to be a least-restrictive environment, conducive to normalized settings, NOT an institutional setting.


Are we up to the challenge? The citizens of Boyle/Mercer counties deserve it. Make your voice heard. Endorse this effort with your magistrates and we can be that beacon of hope for our neighbors, this state and the nation.

Roger Hartner