Saturday, July 15, 2000

2-story Kenton jail advised

Commission cites cost, expansion, efficient staffing

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — When a new Kenton County Jail is built, it should be no higher than two stories, the Kenton County Jail Commission has recommended.

        Such a design would be less costly, and would allow for future expansion and efficiencies in staffing, Elsmere Fire Chief Paul LaFontaine, chairman of the jail commission's infrastructure committee, said Thursday.

        Wherever the jail is built, the county must consider the financial impact on that community's fire and emergency medical services, and make sure the jail is accessible via a major artery, or primary road, Chief LaFontaine said.

        “Whatever is built has to be large enough to meet the demands now and in the future,” Chief LaFontaine said.

        The jail commission, appointed by Kenton County Fiscal Court, is charged with determining the future of adult corrections in Kenton County.

        By early August, Kenton County officials have said they expect to recommend where to build a new jail to relieve crowding in the facility now housed on several floors in the Kenton County Administration Building in downtown Covington.

        The search for a jail site has focused on downtown Covington, but the county's jail consultant has not ruled out a suburban site.

        If the jail is built close to the existing courthouse at 230 Madison Ave., Mr. LaFontaine said a secured walkway should be built, linking the jail with the courthouse. If that is not feasible, the new detention center should include an on-site courtroom, staff to hold court hearings, and a video arraignment system.

        Although some judges have resisted video arraignments because they think prisoners need to see their accusers face to face, a video arraignment would prevent incidents such as Tuesday's brawl in a Boone County courtroom, members of the jail commission said.

        In that incident, a man who was handcuffed to several other fellow prisoners injured an inmate before six bailiffs could restrain him.


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