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Kentucky Senate Passes Bill To Monitor 'No-Jail Jailers'

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closed bars

The Kentucky state Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that attempts to build accountability in counties that have jailers but no jails.

Since the 1970s, 41 counties have closed their jails for budgetary or compliance reasons. Though all of those counties still have a jailer—a constitutional office in Kentucky—many of those jailers don't do much work, according to areportin January by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

The Senate bill requires jailers to submit quarterly reports on their job duties to fiscal courts, would require the county legislative bodies to establish job requirements for county jailers and only make salary adjustments based on increases in the consumer price index.

“In the end, if the jailer’s not performing up to their duties assigned in these no-jail jailers then the fiscal court would have the option to reduce their salary during an election cycle,” said Sen. Sen. Danny Carroll, a Republican from Paducah and sponsor of the bill.

Earlier this year, KyCIR reported that no-jail jailers are paid annual salaries ranging from $20,000 to $70,398. Despite their salaries, jailers’ job responsibilities are often little-to-nonexistent. Several of the jailers work other jobs, a few of which are full-time.

The total cost of no-jail jailers’ salaries is $1.4 million per year.

In a newspaper opinion piece earlier this year, the Kentucky Jailers Association advocated for the reforms included in the bill, like quarterly reporting.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.