Logan County Jailer Bill Jenkins says he is getting “worn down” by all the scrutiny he is being faced with every time he reports to fiscal court.
Jenkins attends all the bimonthly court meetings to give a report of the jail and routinely faces pointed questions from Magistrate Jo Orange about the day-to-day operations of the Logan County Detention Center. The clerk, coroner and sheriff, also attend the meetings to give reports, but do not face the same level of scrutiny.
“Two weeks ago, I told the court how many people that were on the floor at the jail and I was told I was a liar,’ Jenkins said. “I’m always subject to some kind of battery. I try to do the best job I can at the jail.”
The jailer started off his report Tuesday by telling the court he wanted to make a few comments.
Jenkins talked about his service as a Kentucky State Trooper and how he had seen a lot of things in his lifetime through that experience. He said when he became jailer, he has tried to do the right thing by the county and the citizens. He added that being a jailer was a difficult task at times and that he was subject to either physical abuse or law suits on a regular basis. Jenkins said he was expecting a story to be published in the Bowling Green newspaper about a recent lawsuit against the jail soon.
“I make a lot of people mad sometimes in this job,” said Jenkins.
At a previous court meeting, Orange asked about the jail’s canteen fund that has over $18,000 in it and said she had heard those funds could be used on medical expenses at the jail. Jenkins said Tuesday, that he uses that money to purchase mowing equipment and gas, board games and lots of pizza for the inmates as a reward for good behavior. Jenkins said when you have several inmates in one room, with only one bathroom, and they are locked in there sometimes for months, you have to do something to maintain peace at the jail. This is why he offers pizza for rewards for good behavior. Right now, the jail needs a new lawnmower.
The jailer told the court if they choose to use the canteen monies for paying medical costs, that was their call, but said he wished they would determine how much needed to be left in it.
Another issue Jenkins brought up Tuesday involved bringing in additional state inmates to the jail. He said he has enquired if he is allowed to ask for more state inmates when he has several sleeping on the floor of the jail now, which he says is against policy with the Department of Corrections.
Magistrate Orange had asked Jenkins at a previous meeting why he wasn’t seeking additional state inmates to house in the jail. The state pays a daily rate for each state inmate, whereas the county has to foot the bill to house its own.
Jenkins and Orange disagree that filling up the jail with state inmates would be good for the county. Orange said it could help pay for the jail and Jenkins says it will be bad for the community by bringing in inmates who come from larger cities and are possibly gang affiliated. He also felt those inmate’s families would relocate here to be closer to the inmate and bring with them a bad element to Logan County.
Jenkins handed out a list of the custody levels in the jail Tuesday. Magistrate Orange questioned him about each cell and how many it held.
“I assure you, that every decision I make is best for the county and the jail,” said Jenkins to the court Tuesday, adding that he tells his employees at the jail that every action they make effects the jail and the county as a whole.
Magistrate Thomas Bouldin said he appreciated the information Jenkins gave the court.
“I think you do a good job. I don’t think it’s the courts job to micro-manage your job. We are here to support you,” said Bouldin. “You are in the daily operations of the jail and how you handle the canteen fund is up to you,” he added.
Magistrate Orange said she thought it was the court’s right to care what he did with the fund.
Bouldin said if the court took the money out of the canteen fund to spend on something else and then Jenkins needed to purchase a lawnmower and the money was no longer there, he would just have to add that to his budget.
“This is discretionary money,” said Bouldin.
Magistrate Jack Crossley said Jenkins “needed to do what he needed to do” with buying a new lawnmower.
“I like what you do for the community,” said Crossley to Jenkins, referring to the inmate work release program that puts non-threatening inmates out into the community to work.
“I appreciate you too,” said Magistrate Barry Joe Wright to Jenkins.
Jenkins ended his report by saying that when a story was written in the News-Democrat & Leader, it was mentioned by Magistrate Orange how much money the jail cost the county in the 2010-11 fiscal year. He said it did not mention how much the jail generated during that same time period, which he said was approximately $536,000.