Personnel retention a high priority for Ky. jail

Almost 60% of the staff at the Daviess County Detention Center have three years or less experience

By James Mayse

OWENSBORO, Ky — When Daviess County Jailer Art Maglinger was first appointed to jailer in 2017, he said a top priority for him was working to hire and retain strong deputy jailer candidates.

Maglinger, who was elected to the jailer's post last year, said there have been strides in keeping deputy jailers on the job.

Still, challenges to keeping jail deputies remain.

"Forty-four percent of our staff have two years or less of experience," Maglinger said last week. Almost 60% of the staff have three years or less experience.

The jail has 87 positions when fully staffed, although that number includes administrative staff and 10 part-time workers. On a shift, the jail has 12 deputy jailers working with inmates "with an inmate population of close to 800," Maglinger said.

A deputy jailer's job is as difficult as any in law enforcement, although that job is often hidden from the public, Maglinger said.

"They say law enforcement deals with 10% of the population, but in here, (we) are dealing with 100% of the 10%," Maglinger said.

Daviess Fiscal Court approved a pay increase for deputy jailers, so day shift deputies earn $15 an hour, while afternoon and night shift deputy jailers receive $16 an hour.

The pay for deputy jailers "is better than most jails in the region," Maglinger said. Fiscal Court also authorized the creation of two additional deputy jailer positions, which helps on the particularly busy morning and afternoon shifts, Maglinger said.

"I'm thankful county government recognized the value (of deputy jailers) and that this is a tough job," he said.

Maglinger said the jail's command staff recognizes good work by deputy jailers on social media, and holds social events for deputy jailers a few times a year. The command staff also recently adjusted deputy jailer schedules, to give the deputies more frequent weekends off, Maglinger said.

Experienced deputy jailers have the ability to work with and control inmates, and have skills that take time to replace.

"Some of that experience you can't get back," Maglinger said.

Maglinger said he wants to continue working on ways to retain deputy jailers. For example, the jail is looking at installing a video visitation system, which would be beneficial to inmates with families who live far from the jail, while also making deputy jailer's job easier. A video visitation system would mean deputy jailers would not have to physically move as many inmates for visitation.

In-person visitation would still be offered, Maglinger said.

The goal is to stay as close to fully staffed as possible, Maglinger said, adding last week the jail is in the process of making several job offers.

"If they're just here for the pay, they're not going to make it," he said. "It's a calling. We've been really blessed to get some stellar jail deputies. ...My goal is to always support the guys when they are in the right ... and bring recognition for what they do. I don't think the average person recognizes what they do, and how hard it is."

©2019 the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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