Logan County Circuit Judge Joe Hendricks diverted a huge problem for Circuit Clerk Mary Orange Friday, June 17th by ordering Jailer Phil Gregory, along with his appointed personnel or deputies, to prepare and accept bail bonds when the Circuit Court Clerk’s office is closed.
Orange has been handling the job for the past four weeks ever since Gregory, one day after he lost in the Judge-Executive primary election on May 17, emailed Orange that the jail would no longer be handling the responsibility due to staffing shortages. Even though Orange noted it was her job to handle the bonding duties, she said all of the jails around the state of Kentucky, including Logan’s jail up until now, take care of that service.
The jail is currently short nine positions, and according to Gregory, he is having trouble hiring and retaining anyone due to the low wages offered and set by the fiscal court. It must be noted, however, that the jail has been handing bonding for some time even while short-staffed.
“Starting pay for a floor deputy is $14.28. With the real inflation rate being close to 9%, cost of gasoline, food, etc., you can’t blame people for looking for a better paying job,” said the jailer.
Orange took on the recent change by moving a blowup mattress into her office to be available 24-7 in case someone needed to bond out of jail. This also caused additional work for the sheriff’s department which became responsible for transporting inmates to the Justice Center, as well as providing security for Orange after hours. According to Sheriff Stephen Stratton, his deputies have had to answer over 30 calls in the four weeks since the change. Stratton is concerned for Orange’s safety, as well as for what might happen if his deputies are busy with citizen calls when someone needs to bond out of jail.
On Tuesday, June 14, members of the fiscal court approved to transfer $146,581 out of the jail’s budget to the sheriff’s budget to pay for four full-time bailiffs sheriff Stratton would hire to handle the problem temporarily. According to magistrate Thomas Bouldin, the funds are just sitting there in the jail’s budget accumulating by not being used to fund a full staff. However, with Judge Hendrick’s recent Order, this will most likely no longer be necessary.
“The sheriff’s office will continue using day-shift deputies and bailiffs to transport during normal business hours to assist the clerk,” said sheriff Stratton.
This may not be the end of the issue, however, as Gregory noted in his response to the Judge’s Order, there may be a challenge coming down the pike.
“I accept Hon. Joe W. Hendricks, Jr., Chief Circuit Judge, Seventh Judicial Circuit, Logan Circuit Court, Order that was issued on June 17, 2022, to the Logan County Jailer,” said Gregory adding “A challenge to the Order may be coming down the road.”
Gregory further stated, “The Order has added additional hardships on the jail with the already struggling staffing crisis. A staffing analysis performed by the Department of Corrections on May 11, 2019, concluded that 51 full-time staff are necessary to safely operate the Logan County Detention Center. The Jail currently has 15 out of 51 full-time staff and has eight limited part-time employees, who have other jobs. All prisons and jails across the state are having staffing issues. In the Order, it has been decided that the Circuit Court Clerk Mary Orange will fill out bonds at the Justice Center during the week between 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and not at the jail. It is a huge win for those individuals who want to bond out their people during the week.”
Gregory said in the past, an individual has had to come to the jail first to get the bond where it was prepared, then walk or drive to the Justice Center to pay the Circuit Clerk’s Office, and then walk or drive back to the jail with the paperwork so their people could be released. “It will all be done at the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office during the week from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., except on Saturday, Sunday, and KCOJ-approved holidays,” said Gregory.