Jailer candidates talk overcrowding, rehab for drug offenders

Jailer candidates talk overcrowding, rehab for drug offenders

Candidates for Clark County Jailer, Frank Doyle and Randy Steagall, answered questions about rehabilitating individuals incarcerated for drug-related crimes, overcrowding in jails and

Frank Doyle, the incumbent, focused his points on programs already in place.

Doyle said the Clark County Detention Center offers programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Celebrate Recovery.

‘We have a lot of the church-affiliations come in from several different churches,” he said. “We have a Kentucky River Foothills program that is an 18-week program that we have implemented, and it covers parenting, financial and job skills. So what it does, in reality, is it helps them while they’re there.”

Doyle said those programs help inmates be better equipped when they are released.

Randy Steagall said he would look at an approach focused on prevention, awareness and recovery.

“(We need to) change the conversation about addiction and depicting it as a disease that require treatment rather than constitute it as a crime that needs to be punished,” he said. “That will shatter the stigma (around) substance abuse.”

Steagall said by ridding the stigma, more people might be willing to seek treatment. He said reducing the number of people incarcerated for non-violent drug-related crimes could help and instead focus on treatment could reduce recidivism and improve the chances of recovery.

He also suggested a more targeted approach, with classes explicitly geared at heroin, methamphetamine or opioid addiction for inmates.

The candidates also discussed how to balance the demands of a balanced budget with the needs of inmates, especially regarding issues of overcrowding and subsequent potential or issues with hygiene or resources.

Doyle said since taking office in 2015, he and his staff and worked to reduce the taxpayer contribution to the jail’s budget from about 80 percent to 20 percent.

“There isn’t any inhumane treatment at the detention center,” he said. “All of our offenders have access to hygiene daily along with sanitation products to clean the living area.”

Doyle and Steagall both noted overcrowding is a statewide issue.

“Here we control that number to operate safely for the offenders, officers and the community,” Doyle said. “We received three Department of Corrections jail inspections … since 2015, we’ve received excellent reviews on our jail inspections. That’s something I’m proud of.”

Steagall said while overcrowding is an issue, he would focus on reducing the number of violent offenders were are state inmates to minimize risk to staff and other inmates.

He also said the jails are overcrowded largely because of drug-related crimes.

“We’re going to have to get some of these people rehab,” he said. “The jail is overcrowded because of drug offenses. There’s a lot of drug problems in this community and in this nation. Addressing that and taking care of that first and foremost I think will help minimize the number of people coming into the jails.”

Steagall said he also thinks the current budget could be trimmed, as it’s grown in years.