12:59pm

Wed June 8, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

New Management Considered for LEX Jail

Five months after Lexington Mayor Jim Gray called for a review of the Fayette County Detention Center it appears there will be not one, but two groups looking for ways to make improvements. Sheriff Kathy Witt recently presented her findings on conditions at the jail, and Lexington Deputy Police Chief David Boggs delivered his report Tuesday. Boggs says the jail needs less micro-managing and more leadership. "Really the resounding theme came back that that needed to be an increased emphasis on communication so the employees in the organization felt heard."

Soon after taking office in January, Mayor Jim Gray ordered a full scale review of the jail, which has been named in multiple lawsuits. Gray says so far, he's satisfied with the progress.

"There's a heightened level of accountability, there's a heightened level of awareness. The conditions at the jail today are stable. That could change tomorrow. This is a tough environment."

The mayor's administration plans to form a commission to review long term goals for the jail.

But Council member George Myers says Lexington's legislative body also needs to take action. He asked that the council's public safety committee explore whether the jail should be administered by another department, such as the sheriff's office..

"I'm very open to looking at other opportunities besides just the sheriff operating the jail, but I think that, it's clear to me at least, that we need a change."

In some other states, it is common for sheriffs to oversee management of county jails. Director of Community Corrections Ron Bishop says he wasn't surprised by council's action.

"I think it can work out either way. Obviously I think we do a good job. We're under the executive branch of government and I think it works quite well. Can it work in a different setting? Absolutely."

He says staff is already making changes to improve working conditions at the detention center.