Mice are problematic to catch in old buildings but inside the 134-year-old Fayette County Jail the inmates have created a unique solution.
Fayette County Jail inmates reported during interviews last week that they are making “jail house mouse traps” to catch mice that come into the housing cells.
The deteriorating condition of the old jail has made eradicating mice an issue, said Andy Bivens, chief deputy at the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office. Bivens was asked Thursday about the mice inside the jail. At the time, Bivens said mice have been seen in and around the basement and kitchen, but said it was the first he had heard of mice inside the housing cells with the inmates.
Bivens followed up on the issue with jail staff and inmates Friday and said he spoke to the inmates and confirmed that mice are being seen and caught inside the housing cells.
To make a “jail house mouse trap,” inmates said they take a commissary food bag, tie it off at one end, create a hole in the other end and throw in some crumbs. The trap is then laid on the floor for the mouse to climb into. Inmates said the mice are more active at night, and if someone is awake and hears a mouse going into the trap, they jump up and grab the bag and close it. The mouse then suffocates.
The inmates interviewed said that not all inmates are actively catching the mice. Inmates said that at least three mice had been caught last week using the jail house mouse trap.
Vernon Stanforth, Fayette County Sheriff, said the agency has been working to eradicate the mice and does not think the number of mice inside the building is excessive. Stanforth said the jail’s age makes it easier for the mice to move through the structure’s cracks and crevices.
“With the inmates, the mice are going to go anywhere there’s food around. We try to keep things as clean as we can, and that’s an ongoing issue,” said Stanforth.
Food is kept stored in the basement and kitchen but is all sealed and secured so that the mice can’t touch it, said Stanforth. He said if the inmates are leaving out food and crumbs, it will attract the mice into the housing cells.
Bivens said eradicating the mice has been a challenge since they can’t use rodent smoke bombs or mouse poison. He said the jail’s maintenance person and Terminex are working to eradicate the mice.
“We’re really strapped by what we can do. The jail is small, out-dated, and overcrowded,” said Bivens. He said people call the sheriff’s office regularly with concerns over the health and safety conditions inside the jail.
“We listen to their complaints and respond,” he said. “The deterioration of the jail due to the age of the jail is really a problem.”
Fayette County Commissioners announced earlier this year that the county will move forward with plans to build a new jail and are considering the possible funding options, including a tax levy, to fund the jail’s construction.
According to the inmates, mice caught in the jail house mouse traps are turned over to the staff to be disposed.
Ashley may be contacted by calling her at (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton