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Jamie Mosley takes the office of jailer in Laurel County.

Sitting at his desk in the Laurel County Detention Center has been a long time coming for Jailer Jamie Mosley, who takes office today. After a year of vigorous campaigning and several months interviewing employees and attending training sessions, Mosley is ready to finally start his new job.

“There are so many issues, from morale to contraband coming in, down to fiscal efficiency,” he said. “There’s so many areas we want to address.”

One major sticking point at the jail in the past several years stems from sizable cost overruns. As such, Mosley is looking for ways to cut costs dramatically. One of the areas he’s looking at is jail personnel.

“Overtime is still a tremendous issue,” he said of his staff. “It appears the biggest contributor has been the abuse of call-ins without consequences.”

The overtime occurs when a staff member calls in sick near the end of a shift, requiring the person on shift to stay longer and, therefore, gain overtime pay. Part of the issue, Mosley said, is the jail personnel policy states staff members can receive up to 12 sick days a year.

“We’re going to look at the entire personnel policy,” he said. “We feel like the sick time is being abused. For instance, not having a baby sitter available, that’s not acceptable as an excuse.”

Rather than blaming his staff, Mosley blames the overall atmosphere at the jail.

“We feel a lot of this is a result of poor morale — people who do not even want to come to work.”

Mosley said he also plans to outsource medical care, which he said should also save money.

“This would help with the elimination of transferring inmates to and from the doctor,” he said. “Transferring requires two people running full-time. This also creates a lot of overtime. These companies have a doctor that comes to the jail. It’s either a dedicated doctor who comes once a week or they hire a community physician.”

To help alleviate overcrowding — which is another major problem in the facility — Mosley has several plans.

The first is to “move as many people that we can qualify to the work release program,” he said.

“We want to expand that as much as we can,” he added, explaining that the portion of the jail assigned for work release inmates is never overcrowded.

Mosley also wants to make way for more state inmates, whose reimbursement is much higher than county inmates. To make room for them, Mosley said he plans on placing more inmates on home incarceration.

“It’s a good investment on our part to do that,” he said. “That way, we don’t have to pay for food, don’t have to provide medical care.”

He also wants to keep in good contact with the public and the Laurel County Fiscal Court.

“I’ve already attended the past two fiscal court meetings,” he said. “Barring some catastrophic event, I plan on being at every one of those meetings. I want to make sure we have a dialogue with the county judge and the magistrates on a weekly basis.”

He said he also plans on communicating with the public via press releases to the media.

“We will make sure that everyone stays informed on what’s taking place,” he said.

In the end, Mosley said he is keeping the bigger picture in mind and trying to emulate a well-known politician from the past.

“When I was campaigning, a lot of people would refer back to Big John Bowling,” he said. “I think that’s quite a compliment to him, being that he’s been out of office so many years. I think a lot of it was his compassion, not only for the inmates but for the families of the inmates. And he was remembered for the Christmas lights at the jail. I hope next Christmas to do that in honor of Big John.”

Staff writer Tara Kaprowy can be reached by e-mail at tkaprowy@sentinel-echo.com.

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