Some state inmates have begun returning to the Daviess County Detention Center.

The state worked to reduce jail populations because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19 by releasing medically fragile state inmates and certain inmates who were close to completing their prison sentences.

The jail, which normally would hold a large number of inmates, saw its overall jail population drop through releases and through efforts by law enforcement to not arrest people who had committed nonviolent, nonsexual offenses.

Daviess County Jailer Art Maglinger said one side effect of having fewer state inmates was that there were fewer low-level offense inmates available for labor at the jail. Low-level state inmates also serve on county work crews, but those crews have been halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The jail was holding about 300 state inmates on July 26 as well as 88 federal inmates. When the pandemic shut down much of state operations, the Department of Corrections stopped the practice of transferring state inmates to county jails.

“We took in 10 state inmates on (July 24),” Maglinger said. “That’s good, because (we have) a shortage of workers.”

The state Department of Corrections approved the transfer of the inmates, who came from Roederer Correctional Complex in LaGrange.

The state pays certain county jails about $31 daily for each state inmate housed at the jail. The state inmates have jobs at the jail, such as maintenance, mowing and working in the jail garden.

The state inmates will be in quarantine for 14 days before they are able to do work or be around other inmates. Each new state inmate had two negative COVID-19 tests prior to the transfer, Maglinger said.

“We won’t take a significant number, because we still have to quarantine every one that comes into the facility,” he said. “We obviously could use the workers, and we had the opportunity to do it safely.”

A return to housing state inmates in very large numbers is not on the horizon.

“It will be gradual,” Maglinger said.

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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