LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - A Southern Kentucky community will soon have a larger more modern facility to house inmates.
The current jail in Laurel County is overcrowded with inmates sleeping on mats on the floor.
The jailer says that it creates a safety issue for guards.
"Officers will walk in to do the hourly check, they won't have to step over people," said Jailer Jamie Mosley. "Now, there's not a big difference in laying on concrete on a mat, and laying on a steel bunk in a mat, but it does create tremendous safety issues when the officers are in the cells doing cell checks."
The jail was built decades ago, designed for just over 300 inmates. Yet it is filled with more than 500.
The new jail will allow for more than 600 inmates with the ability to grow. It is 105,000 square feet covering 15 acres, and costs about $24 million.
Mosley says they will also be able to house more state and federal inmates along with some from counties that do not have jails, meaning their operating costs could be less.
"With the overcrowding situation we have at our existing facility, it makes it very difficult to house enough of those revenue-generating inmates to overcome the cost of the county inmates that you receive no compensation for,” Mosley said. "We will basically be getting a new facility, paying for that new facility and spending nearly a million dollars a year less than to remain in the one we have."
Mosley says the jail is being built in a location that will allow them to expand if need be and create a secure area outside if they ever had to evacuate. The jailer knows, however, that it is not a good thing to have to build a larger building to lock people up. He said they have numerous programs to minimize the jail's population.
"Our goal is to make this the last day each inmate comes into our facility, but the reality is when the community grows, that element of crime or criminal activity grows along with it."
The jail will also have room for a garden where Mosley says inmates will grow many of the items they cook in their kitchen.
The jail is expected to open sometime this fall.
Once the old jail is renovated, it will be used to house female inmates.