- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. (AP) - A Grant County jail employee said the county’s decision to close its only jail was “absolutely retaliation” for the county jailer’s release of a video in which an official used crude language to confide how he would like a younger, more attractive female employee.

The county fiscal court voted unanimously Tuesday to close the jail after the latest fight between Judge-Executive Steve Wood and Jailer Chris Hankins, news outlets reported. The jail has been plagued by inmate lawsuits, personnel lawsuits, prisoner escapes and maintenance issues for more than a decade.

But Maj. Jason Hankins, who manages day-to-day operations at the jail, told WCPO-TV (https://bit.ly/2a1En0I ) the vote is directly related to Chris Hankins’ decision to release a video in which Wood made a sexist joke and talked crudely about firing employee McClure Ellington.

Ellington filed a federal lawsuit in January, accusing the county of age and sex discrimination.

“Steve Wood and his Boss Hogg Dukes of Hazzard court crippled the jail,” said Bill Adkins, a lawyer for some of the jail employees.

Wood disputed the notion that Tuesday’s vote was personal. He said the jail is being closed after Chris Hankins refused to house 69 state prisoners, depriving the county of state revenue.

“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Wood told the Kentucky Enquirer (https://cin.ci/29TgPZs). “We’ve been talking about closing the jail for awhile. I’ve not talked to one person that wants to keep the jail open.”

Officials now have four months to find a new jail for 72 county inmates and 226 state inmates. The options include paying other counties to house its prisoners, selling the jail to a private contractor or asking judges to sentence more defendants to home incarceration.

Thirty-eight employees will also need to find new jobs.

Since 1970, 41 other counties in Kentucky have opted to close their jails, according to a report by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Journalism.

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