A lot of changes have taken place over the past few months in regard to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Logan County’s Detention Center is but one example of how the virus has mutated normal day-to-day operations.

One of the biggest changes to the local jail is population. The facility, on a normal day before the pandemic, housed 200 or more inmates. That number has dropped considerably with 112 as of last week.

Mandates from the Department of Corrections (DOC), the Kentucky Supreme Court as well as local precautions taken by jailer Phil Gregory himself, keep a low population to maintain the health and safety of both inmates as well as jail staff.

“We are averaging about 31 county inmates where we normally average 85-100. There has also been a decrease in state inmates. The positive side of this, however, is there has also been a decrease in the food and water costs to the facility,” said Gregory who feels comfortable in predicting that the jail will still meet the budget.

Other changes at the jail include the suspension of the Work Release Program.

“I have not been able to allow the state inmates to do the community service labor that so many different agencies throughout the county depend on. This is due to the Kentucky Department of Corrections not allowing the state inmates out of the jail facilities at this time,” Gregory said.

Some of the community service labor projects that are currently unable to be completed include mowing, litter abatement, and brush cutting on the highways — just to mention a few.

“I know that it has been a hardship on those in our community who rely on the state inmate’s community service labor. Hopefully, this situation will be resolved in a couple of weeks. I am anxious to get the programs restarted,” said Gregory.

It seems as if this change will be implemented for the foreseeable future, according to a letter sent out to all jailers and staff by Kirstie R. Willard, Director for the Division of Local Facilities Kentucky Department of Corrections.

“The Cabinet and DOC received KJA’s proposal on beginning to allow state inmates to return to outside details, with certain criteria for specific protocols to be in place. The decision has been made to not allow that at this time, but to reevaluate the situation in a couple of weeks,” said Willard adding, “There is still great concern about inmates being out, participating in work that increases their exposure to contract the virus, and then bringing it back into your facilities. We’ve seen first-hand at Green River how quickly this virus can spread throughout a facility, even when inmates are not coming and going. While we know that further delaying outside work details causes hardships for your counties because important tasks are going unattended, the health and safety of the inmates, staff, and communities is our utmost concern.”

Gregory is also saddened to have had to temporarily suspend the jail’s Garden Program. For a few years now, inmates have grown a garden on Peyton Street in Russellville which is used to feed them along with donating the excess to the community.

“It has been very disappointing that I have not been able to put out the garden yet this year. With DOC not allowing the state inmates to leave the building, we have not had the inmate labor to start this project this year. This has been a huge disappointment to myself and the inmates who enjoy getting out of the jail and working in the garden. I hope to have a crop later this year since this is a food source for the jail,” said Gregory.

The jailer reports that the morale of the staff at the detention center has been good and that the staff has gone above and beyond their job duties during this time to include making their own personal masks and having an upbeat outlook.

“I feel very comfortable in the stockpile of supplies that we have been able to accumulate over the last few months,” Gregory said. “We are well stocked on surgical masks, N95 masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, bleach, toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectant, and other personal protective equipment.”

Gregory also added a strict protocol at the jail to include that everyone who enters the facility (staff and inmates) must have their temperatures taken daily. All staff is required to wear masks and gloves. A 14-day quarantine is mandatory for any inmates that come into the jail.

As Jailer, it is my responsibility to keep the staff and their families, inmates, and any others who enter the jail such as outside maintenance safe. I am happy to report that as of today May 18, 2020, no one (staff or inmates) has any fever or any other signs or symptoms of the Coronavirus,” Gregory said.