Hardin County Detention Center curbs overcrowding with inmate se - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Hardin County Detention Center curbs overcrowding with inmate service credits

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Hardin County inmates working in the jail's kitchen. Hardin County inmates working in the jail's kitchen.

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) - A Kentucky bill passed last year allows non-violent inmates, convicted of misdemeanor crimes, to work for credits and earn time off a sentence. 

Carl Skillman is an inmate in the program at the Hardin County Detention Center. 

"It’s a benefit. It’s a privilege," said Carl Skillman, an inmate in the program at the Hardin County Detention Center. "I'm about five days so far. I've been in it for a month" 

To be eligible for the program, the sentence must be longer than 30 days. Jail officials say this is in direct response to inmate overpopulation issues in Kentucky.

"Our average population over the last three months has topped 725, and there's no end in sight with that," said Lt. Robert Reynolds with the Hardin County Detention Center. 

Reynolds says that's almost double the number of inmates from when he started at the jail 17 years ago.

The most common jobs inmates are working are in the kitchen and cleaning the facility. The program keeps inmates busy and motivated. 

"It gets you out of the pod," Skillman said. "You actually get to work. It prepares you for your release to get you back out into society."

Reynolds says the opportunity for early release encourages good behavior. 

"It seems to be a win-win all around," he said. "It's been a good positive tool for us,” he said. 

For every 40 hours of work, inmates get one day taken off the sentence. Inmates also get five days taken off for each month of good behavior. The jail limits the number of hours inmates can work each month, so the monthly earned maximum for working is four days off a sentence. That, combined with good behavior, brings the total deducted days off a sentence to a maximum of nine days each month. 

But if an inmate misbehaves, they lose all credits earned.

Reynolds wants to ensure the community that these are low-level inmates that don’t pose a risk to society. He says getting these low-risk inmates out of jail sooner cuts costs, which has a direct impact on taxes. 

"The cost of housing them in the county jail is completely on the tax payer,” Reynolds said. 

The program is also helping tackle the overpopulation issues. 

"With the ever-increasing cost and and rise in jail populations, administrators need to look at every opportunity they have to control these jail populations,” Reynolds said. 

The program isn’t just available in Hardin County. Jails across the Commonwealth are taking advantage of work programs to deal with overcrowding issues. 

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