The July 25 meeting of the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center board was the first with newly hired jail administrator Byron Hansford, who won out in the jail’s search after dismissing the previous administrator, F.D. “Pete” Fitzpatrick.
Hansford, a Floyd County native, spent much of his career with Kentucky State Police across the Post 9 service area. He moved to Johnson County in 2007, and also worked at the jail previously under former administrator Randy Madan.
The board sought to bring in a new administrator this year to turn around the conditions at the jail, which had allegedly included mold and graffiti.
“They had started getting it cleaned up before I got here,” Hansford said. “I know when I was here under Randy Madan, I did the investigations here. He got this jail into about as good of conditions as you can get a jail. It was clean, it was run right, and fortunately that’s where I got my experience in corrections.”
Hansford said that, just as the board cannot micromanage the conditions at the jail, one administrator cannot be everywhere at once either, and he has been working in meetings with staff to get them invested in the state of the jail.
“We have a young staff. What we are trying to do is get some experience in here,” Hansford said. “We had a staff meeting the other day, and I made it clear to all here what my expectations are. I said, ‘If a board member walks in here, if a state inspector walks in here, I’m not going to be that cushion. I’m not going to stall them. If it’s not in good shape, I’ll take my chewing out, and after they get done with me, I’ll be back here to talk to you.’ I expect it to be clean all the time, not just when someone shows up.”
The board voted in last week’s meeting to raise the starting pay for incoming staff members with prior corrections experience, and Hansford said two new experienced hires have been made under his tenure so far.
The consistent problem with overcrowding, Hansford said, is less easy to manage, as the jail has no authority to refuse inmates who need to be lodged. Regardless of population numbers, Hansford said, his responsibility and that of his staff is to ensure that inmates’ time in BSRDC is safe and healthy.
Part of that culture is an open door policy for his employees, and to help the jail further, Hansford said he is finally exploring new revenue streams he first envisioned years ago, such as selling advertising space on the jail’s website and incorporating substance abuse programs into the jail.