Jail gets surprise state inspection
The last thing Jailer Mary Hammons and her staff expected when they returned from lunch Aug. 20 was to find a state inspector walking into the front doors of the Knox County DetentionCenter.
Mike Coomer, jail inspector for the Kentucky Department of Corrections, had come to do a surprise follow-up inspection to one held on April 16.
According to regulations, the Department of Corrections is required to do at least two inspections each year, one by appointment and the other unannounced.
“I told him I wasn’t ready for an inspection,” said Jailer Mary Hammons. “He wasn’t supposed to be here until the October-November time frame. In fact, he usually doesn’t come around until after the Daniel Boone Festival. This was a total surprise. We didn’t even have a chance to get nervous.”
Little did the Detention Center staff know at the time that they had nothing to fear from the state inspector.
Coomer checked the fire extinguishers, sprinkler system and smoke alarms. He also checked the inmate canteen report, checked that medications were being administered properly, and even made sure employee training records were up-to-date.
After nearly two hours and a thorough inspection of the facility, Hammons was pleasantly surprised when Coomer handed her a report with absolutely no negative remarks and no issues of non-compliance.
“I was not embarrassed about anything,” said Jailer Hammons of the inspection results. In fact, I was real happy about it.”
In the jail’s favor, its floors had just recently been stripped and polished, and only 43 inmates were housed during the inspection, as another 10 inmates were out on work release, and the day’s extra court inmates had already been transported out.
In a letter addressed to Jailer Hammons and the Knox County Fiscal Court, Desi Brooks, The Department of Corrections Administrator, wrote, “I am pleased to inform you that no items of non-compliance were documented during the inspection process. I appreciate your commitment to operating the facility in compliance with the Kentucky Jail Standards. Please extend my congratulations to your staff on this accomplishment.”
Jailer Hammons could not help but beam with pride.
“I have a wonderful, supporting staff, who simply do what needs to be done,” said Hammons. “I couldn’t do my job without them. The results of this surprise inspection are especially meaningful because it shows me – and the state – that my staff are doing their jobs well, even when no one is looking.”