Skip to content

Prospects on jail not good

The possibility of re-opening the McCreary County Detention Center isn’t looking good after a Tuesday morning walkthrough with representatives from the Kentucky Department of Corrections and State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Judge Executive Doug Stephens, Jailer Jessie Hatfield, Sheriff Randy Waters along with Magistrates Jason Mann and Leroy “O.L.” Perry led the delegation through the jail.

While work crews had spent several days cleaning, sand blasting and painting – giving portions of the facility a much-needed cosmetic update – the structural issues underneath may be too much to even open a portion of the facility.

The Fire Marshal noted several items he found with his brief inspection that wouldn’t pass inspection. Things such as the sprinkler system and separation between the boiler and pipes raised immediate concern. Also, a smoke evacuation system is not up to code. It was noted that Bell County recently installed such a system at a cost of about $1 million.

The Department of Corrections officials also made several notes about issues found, and promised to put together a presentation to give to the DOC Commissioner to see if it is possible to consider granting the County permission to repair the facility in hopes of opening it to prisoners once again.

The McCreary County Detention Center officially was closed in January 2013, more than two years ago.

Typically, if a facility has been closed for more than two years, it would have to be brought up completely to modern standards before it would even be considered to be opened again.

But, since the County has been in contact with the DOC since the closure, and has taken some steps to correct the problems in the building, there could be a remote chance that the waiver the facility had been operating under, could be extended to re-open under older standards.

But even if the County was granted such a waiver, there are still several electrical and plumbing issues that would need to be addressed, and those may be insurmountable.

An architect would have to be retained to develop a plan for needed repairs, and that cost alone could be more than the county finances could handle.

The repairs, also, could prove costly – even with County employees doing as much as possible.

“We need to know what we can do,” Judge Stephens said. “We’d hate to spend a lot of money and find out we still couldn’t open it.”

For now, all that can be done is wait for the DOC Commissioner to make a determination. Judge Stephens said he expected to hear definitive word within the next two weeks.

Leave a Comment