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Jail changes benefit overcrowded inmate population

December 10, 2018 | 3:07 am

Updated December 9, 2018 | 11:45 pm

Photo by AP Imagery

Serving as jailer since Aug. 31, 2017, Art Maglinger has been able to effect significant change in recent months at Daviess County Detention Center — some of those changes at no additional expense to the taxpayers and all changes benefit the 700 inmate population.

Implementation of Guard I surveillance technology in early November has eliminated the old method of headcounts, which were previously conducted with pen and paper. Now, Android-based devices are used to scan each inmate’s wristband. Sergeant Zachary Ezell is spearheading the new program.

“It is not any quicker or slower,” Ezell said. “But we now have 100 percent accountability.”

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Ezell also said Guard I saves a considerable amount of cost in paper. Ezell said Guard I cost nearly $20,000, but the technology was purchased out of the commissary fund, which is money DCDC takes in from inmate commissary purchases. According to Ezell, those funds are discretionary, as long as they are used to benefit the inmate.

Another of Maglinger’s changes was the company that supplied the commissary to DCDC. In early November, he announced Kellwell Commissary as the new vendor, which will allow the jail to collect 33 percent of food sales rather than the 27 percent collected under the previous provider.

In addition to the food, hygiene products and clothing sold through Kellwell, a law library and digital mailing scanning system are also provided at no additional cost. According to Maglinger, a law library has been a common request in the past and inmates have been pleased with the addition.

The digital mail system allows DCDC staff to scan inmates’ mail and deliver digital copies, which decreases contraband. Maglinger said a detention center in Meade County found birthday cards coated in liquid methamphetamine, which inmates were eating to get high. The digital mail system eliminates this risk.

Maglinger said Kellwell also provides video visitation technology, something he is considering implementing in 2019. State law requires inmates get 15-minute visits, but Maglinger said video visitations would allow inmates more time with loved ones.

“Some inmates’ families are driving 300 miles for a visit,” Maglinger said. “Video visitations would help this burden and also allow inmates to see the Christmas tree and other family members unable to visit the jail.”

There are still security measures to consider, Maglinger said. He said all video visitations would be recorded and documented.

In September, Maglinger asked Daviess County Fiscal Court for funds to change the detention center’s health care provider to Southern Health Partners, which he said would increase costs by a total of $41,000 over an 8-month period. Maglinger said this change will ensure the inmates receive the best medical and mental health care possible.

Maglinger first took the post as jailer when former Daviess County Jailer David Osborne announced plans to retire early because of health concerns. Osborne recommended that Maglinger, a detective with the Owensboro Police Department, be appointed on an interim basis. Maglinger accepted and Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly appointed the detective.

Since taking over, Maglinger has seen the number of federal inmates double from 38 in September 2017 to 80 today. He has also negotiated with the Vanderburgh County Sheriff to house inmates while they are completing construction on their facility. Both of these bring in more money to DCDC — a Daviess County inmate provides the jail with a $20 per diem, while federal inmates provide $40 and Vanderburgh County inmates provide $35.

On Friday, the jail housed 714 inmates, but four months ago Maglinger said that number was near 800. Although he said there is no sure reason for the decrease in recent months, he has some theories.

“As a former police officer, I don’t think violent crimes are as prevalent during the colder months,” Maglinger said. “And Owensboro Police Department’s flex team served a lot of warrants then. It was a good thing. They were keeping our community safe, but it did fill up the jail.”

Aerial view of Daviess County Detention Center | Photo by AP Imagery

Maglinger said that, despite overall inmate numbers being down, the jail is still experiencing some overcrowding in building one, where there are nearly 500 inmates in the 482-capacity space.

Building one houses both male and female inmates with 100 separate cells, some with as many as 30 inmates in one open-bunk room. Maglinger said he last counted 15 inmates in the jail for murder or manslaughter at one time.

“It takes a long time to fight out their case in court,” Maglinger said. “They can be here for two to three years before hearing a final decision.”

Building two is designated for the substance abuse program with 70 inmates in an area with 58 beds, while building three has beds available.

Maglinger said building three is community level custody, with a less secure set-up for inmates with class C or D felonies. This is where state-approved workers are housed. Maglinger said, while he has space available in building three, he doesn’t have enough low-custody inmates he can relocate there.

A fourth building is currently only used for training.

December 10, 2018 | 3:07 am

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