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Commissioners spend night in jail
Locked up.jpg
Warren County Commissioners Blaine Wilcher, Scott Rubley, Steven Helton, Phillip Stout and Randy England visited Warren County Jail on July 12. The group was provided a behind-the-scenes look at the process. While Stout opted out, the remaining commissioners elected to stay the night in jail. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

A night without freedom was an eye-opener for Warren County commissioners. 

Blaine Wilcher, Randy England, Steven Helton and Scott Rubley spent Friday night, July 12, in Warren County Jail.

“I learned that they run a tight ship,” said Wilcher. “They are very prepared and can adapt to changes well. Jackie Rackley (jail administrator) is not intimidated in the least. She will get in the cells with anyone. The most discouraging thing is to see how many people you know that are in there. I believe we understand better how important the counseling is that Generations is providing. I believe this should be a Monday through Friday program.”

Rubley agreed, “I do think they need a psychiatrist on staff.”

The group’s behind-the-scenes look started with Judicial Commissioner Kevin Deason.

“I’m looking for probable cause,” said Deason. “Probable cause is the main thing that has to be established before we will write any kind of warrant or a criminal summons.”

Rackley then took the group to booking. 

“This is our booking area,” she said. “This is where you’d be fingerprinted and have your mugshot taken. We have our list of bail bonding companies over here on the wall. You’ll be given an opportunity to arrange bail. We’re not allowed to suggest which one to call. It’s up to you.”

For those who do not, or cannot post bail, their personal property is confiscated and held until they are released.

Overcrowding has been a longstanding issue. England noted that fact, as well as the need to improve the jail’s surveillance camera system.

“There are a lot of inmates, but the corrections officers do a great job,” said England. “They work well together and safety is the main issue, not only for them but the inmates. Jackie does a fabulous job at keeping the jail organized and run. I was very impressed. I did see the issues with the cameras that need to be addressed soon. There are too many dark spaces they cannot see.”

Education could be the key.

England urged educational opportunities for inmates. 

“One thing we need tremendously is a way to educate these people before we turn them back into society,” said England. “They need to be able to get their GEDs and possibly learn a trade. We need to help them rather than turn them back out with no resources. I am proud of the changes and accomplishments that have been made so far at the jail. I’ll definitely go back and visit more often than I have been.”

Helton expressed gratitude to Myers and Rackley for making the stay possible and urged other commissioners to also spend a night in jail as a way to educate themselves. 

Commissioner Phillip Stout was also in attendance, but he declined staying overnight at the facility.