Reader’s Digest Version
Early in my legal career I served as a prosecutor in the US Army JAG Corps. I loved the job. It would be rewarding to do it again, but now is not the time for me.
I have decided to run for McCracken County Commissioner; therefore, I have decided to not run for McCracken County Attorney.
The longer more tedious analysis of my decision follows below.
County Commissioner or County Attorney Discussion (The Long Version)
First and foremost, I want to thank Sam Clymer for nearly 15 years of public service in the county attorney office.
I have great interest in the office of county attorney, in part, because I see the need for some adjustments in how we manage our local justice system. Below are 2 suggestions. I hope our next county attorney will have some thoughts on these same issues.
1. Addiction/Consequences – Today I am grateful for the 19 years, 8 months and 3 days that have passed since I last used my drug of choice (cocaine). Most people are surprised to learn that I previously struggled with addiction. I have a heart for the addict because I have both created and felt the consequences of addiction. For more information about my struggle with addiction and the grace of recovery see https://eddiejones.com/wheres-waldo-meets-recovering-addict-2/
In the coming months, I expect a legal settlement from opioid litigation filed by the Kentucky Attorney General will make some additional funds available to our local governments. There will be restrictions on how we can use these funds. However I anticipate we will be allowed to use these settlement funds to re-imagine ways we can create recovery stories in the lives of those struggling with addiction. I believe we can improve our system by making a district court level “drug court type alternative” more available to more of those suffering or yielding to addiction.
I feel certain the process for this change must begin at the county attorney level. The county attorney is generally the first prosecutor that interacts with the person struggling with addiction. I hope, as a county commissioner, I can contribute more to this discussion.
2. The Cost of our County Jail – In our County, we typically spend 8 million dollars a year to house inmates. In an average year, the county jail generates 5 million dollars a year from housing “State Inmates.” In other words, we lose 3 million dollars a year to run a jail. As a matter of law, McCracken County has to run a jail.
There is no way to make this topic more sexy or interesting. However our disinterest in this topic is costing us money. So I wage on. This topic is relevant to many upcoming local elections.
From an economic perspective, there are basically four types of inmates:
Misdemeanor Inmates – The County pays for “Misdemeanor Inmates.”
State Inmates – The State pays the County about 31 dollars a day for each “State Inmate.”
Pre-trial Inmates – These inmates often become “State Inmates” once they are convicted of a felony. The County pays for all “Pre-trial Inmates.”
Federal Inmates – The federal government pays the County about 45 dollars a day for each “federal inmate.”
A “state inmate” does not become a “state inmate” until one of our higher level judges (the circuit judge) renders a final sentence or punishment. Our County needs to carefully monitor those we keep incarcerated on a “pre-trial” basis because they are not yet “state inmates.” Every time a circuit judge says to a defendant “time served,” we should hang our heads because we managed that case in the most expensive manner. The State did not contribute to the cost of the incarceration; rather, the County paid it all.
I believe we can reduce the cost of our jail if the County Attorney, the two District Court Judges and the Jailer participate in a weekly review of the jail’s pre-trial inmate list. If we are afraid of an inmate, we keep him/her in jail and we stay safe. If we are just mad at the inmate, we should let the inmate out, monitor him/her and require the released inmate re-enter jail after they are a “State Inmate” to do their time of incarceration at the State’s expense.
We can either talk about this issue during an “election time period” or we can just keep paying to run the jail inefficiently. Neither the County Jailer nor the Fiscal Court can fix this problem without the help of local judges and prosecutors.
“Wrap up” and a Comment about the Picture
So, about the feature picture … it has no real relevance to this discussion. I just think it is a cool picture and apparently every post needs a picture. 😎 It was taken a few years ago after Judge Craig Clymer retired from the judicial bench and joined our law firm. I am proud that my career path and the career path of now County Judge Executive Craig Clymer have crossed in so many different ways. I am proud of his leadership. I enjoy serving as a County Commissioner with his leadership as County Judge Executive. I think our present McCracken County Fiscal Court has worked hard together to move our community forward in big ways. I think we make a good team and I think we need to keep the team together for four more years.
I look forward to more opportunities to discuss the “cool things” happening in local government. I believe big things are headed our way. We have an airport terminal to finish. We have a sports complex to build. We have a economic development mega-site to enlarge. We have a 911 system to fix. It will be a busy and productive four years.
AND FINALLY, I would like to ask you for your support and for your vote for one more term as a McCracken County Commissioner.