Officials visiting jails in Kentucky, Indiana

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A contingent of Warren County officials has hit the road, visiting newer jails as part of the ongoing study into designing a new detention facility here.

Undersheriff Jeff Riggs, Chief Deputy Jay McKenzie, County Administrator John Smith and District 1 Supervisor David McDonald left today for facilities in Kentucky and Indiana.

Staffing and funding matters, though not part of a study by Colorado-based planner Voorhis/Robertson Justice Services set to wrap up in April, will also be discussed with officials in suburban Louisville and Indianapolis, McDonald said.

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“When you’re talking about as much money as we are, we need to make sure we get it right,” McDonald said.

Stops on Wednesday and Thursday include Marion and Carroll counties in Kentucky and Wayne and Grant counties in Indiana. All built facilities with some type of consultation from Voorhis/Robertson, officials said.

County and sheriff’s officials have met with the consulting firm several times since late 2008, shortly after supervisors hired the company to come up with suggestions on the size and scope of a jail to replace the existing facility at Cherry and Grove streets. The oldest parts of the current jail date to 1904.

Lead planner Dave Voorhis met with local judiciary and other elected officials in December, encouraging formation of a separate panel to study how to speed the processing of pre-trial detainees to prevent a new jail from filling as quickly as it is built. Details in advance of a final report point to a 350-bed facility built on 50 rural acres sometime in the next four years. Staffing models suggest more than tripling the current manpower to 80 after the first year of operation. Site selection doesn’t figure to begin in earnest until the conceptual study is completed.

Financing a new jail could come from issuing construction bonds and/or a tax rate increase. About $1 million in extra revenue might be needed annually to pay for the added staffing, perhaps through a property tax increase.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at