By: Madison Fugate
Some interesting information was discussed at the most recent Powell County Fiscal Court meeting when Powell County Jailer, Travis Crabtree, and Deputy Jailer, Neal Hamilton, took the floor. Their main purpose for attending the meeting was to provide updates for the budget. However, that conversation led to more important updates as well. Crabtree explained that they expected a $102,000 reimbursement for COVID relief. Therefore, they have been analyzing invoices over the course of the last several months to determine expenses that trace back to COVID. According to Hamilton and Crabtree, the budget for the Powell County Jail remains in a noteworthy and comfortable state.
The Powell County Jail has recently began an ankle monitoring service. This service cuts back on the significant amount of time employees were required to spend at hospitals with inmates. “It’s benefited us a lot as far as having to stay at the hospital,” he explained to the court. Magistrate Timmy Tipton confirmed with Hamilton and Crabtree that this was something they had been hoping to introduce for some time now. Crabtree also explains that they’re able to introduce this system as a result of the cooperation of Judge Gary Salyers, “Judge Salyers has been great with it.” Hamilton shares that he’s hopeful that ankle monitoring will help cut the cost of medical expenses and alleviate some of the overtime pay. In terms of COVID and how much of an issue that remains to be for the jail, Crabtree claims, “It’s few and far between, but it’s still there.”
Shortly following these updates, the question as to why there were so many more arrests in Powell County than other neighboring counties came about during conversations. One magistrate shared that Powell at one point had more inmates alone than other counties, such as Owsley, Breathitt and Wolfe, even combined together. So the ultimate question came about, “Do you think there’s more crime in Powell County?” Magistrate Timothy Tipton inquired. Powell County has two full-time investigators and eighteen active officers. Apparently, this is significantly more than some of the surrounding counties. Crabtree acknowledged the circumstances, “We have more county inmates than we’ve ever had- than Breathitt, Wolfe, Owsley, and probably Lee, combined.” It was determined that these arrest records could be traced back to the diligent efforts of these officers that share a common goal to put an end to the drug epidemic.
Seemingly, a huge source of these arrests traces back to drug-use. In light of this update, Judge Executive James Anderson commended the local law enforcement for their dedication and efforts to rid Powell county of the drug-use epidemic. Judge Anderson added, “The average public doesn’t realize what a drain the drug epidemic is,” then further stated that so much of the general funding is used to do the “bare minimum to keep the problem at bay.” It was declared throughout the meeting, collectively by these leaders of the community, “We want it (drugs) off the street.”