Once a write-in candidate, Rob Reynolds is declaring his candidacy for Hardin County jailer early for the 2022 primary.
With an announcement on Facebook, Reynolds, a Republican, has shared his intentions to oppose Hardin County Jailer Josh Lindblom, a Democrat.
“As I said the last time that I ran, Hardin County deserves to have the best qualified candidate to run the jail for this community,” he said. “I don’t believe (Lindblom) is the best candidate to operate our facility.”
Reynolds has been part of operations at the jail for “a little over 18 years,” including in administration under the previous jailer, Danny Allen. Reynolds left his position when Allen finished his term in January 2019 after losing in the 2018 primary to Lindblom.
Lindblom would go on to defeat Reynolds, who was a write-in candidate, in the 2018 November general election. Lindblom collected 22,387 as Reynolds would garner 1,445.
“Being a member of (Allen’s) administration, I respected Danny tremendously and I chose not to run against him (in the primary),” Reynolds said of his decision not to enter the 2018 race in the primary.
Reynolds said his platform will target lowering recidivism by implementing programs to improve the quality of life for staff and inmates, which he says currently don’t exist.
“This facility has an opportunity to put some programming in place to really curb the recidivism numbers here in Hardin County,” he said. “That’s been my platform all along. I love the jail. I love this community and that’s why I decided to go ahead and run again is because I wasn’t ready to hang my career up and I think the county deserves somebody better.”
Reynolds also took issue with the current work program at the jail, saying it was implemented through a third-party contractor, which withholds some of the inmate’s wages to pay for programming. Reynolds said he would bring the program in-house so inmates can keep the wages they earn.
In responding to Reynolds’ criticism, Lindblom cited several programs, including the two work-release programs, GED, two life skills programs — Portals and MRT, a substance abuse program and a culinary arts program, at the detention center help inmates transition to life outside jail.
“To be honest with you, we’re one of the only jails that has all that stuff together,” he said, noting Hardin County is one of four detention centers with a substance abuse program for women. “In the last 3½ years, we’ve graduated more people from GED than ever before, even more so than the next five jails.”
Lindblom said the Sheriff Staffing Program, which Reynolds referenced “helps people make real money while they’re out working in the factories, and when they get out, they automatically have a job with the program they’re working with.”
“There’s nothing unethical about it,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I have over 200 thank you notes from people in the program.”
Inmates actual earnings combined will hit $1 million in the coming weeks, Lindblom said, adding the program is licensed and insured and has been approved by Hardin Fiscal Court, Kentucky Department of Corrections and all the Hardin County district and circuit court judges.
“It is a staffing agency that gets these people jobs,” he said. “They actually transport them. They cover the workmen’s (comprehensive insurance). They give them a real wage while they’re out there working.”
Lindblom said while he hasn’t taken official action, he does plan to run again in 2022 in order to continue his work to keep the detention center as a “showpiece jail.”
“We’ve done such good work in the last three years,” he said. “We’ve been able to save the county millions of dollars. We want to keep that going. We’ve been praised by Democrats and Republicans throughout the county.”
Reynolds said he has experience to challenge Lindblom’s fiscal record.
“The biggest cost savings I’ve seen at the jail is in staffing,” he added. “To me, that’s not fiscally conservative, it’s fiscally dangerous.”
Reynolds currently works as a protective security officer for Paragon Systems, a contract security agency for the Federal Protective Service Police Division of Homeland Security.
“It takes somebody that has the knowledge of how a jail operates and the security requirements to be able to think outside the box to put some of these programs in place. Our current jailer has had four years to do that and it hasn’t happened.”
Gina Clear can be reached at 270-505-1418 or firstname.lastname@example.org.