The original 1886 portion of the old Jail was built in the Second Empire style architecture and was located in downtown Owensboro. Beginning in the 1950s, several additions were made to the original building. However, on July 9, 2003 the old jail was demolished as all jail operations had moved to the current facility, which is located at 3337 Highway 144, Owensboro, KY.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is the only state in the country that has the position of Jailer. In all other states, the county sheriff is responsible for managing the jail. The Jailer is a constitutional officer elected every four years along with other county offices. The Kentucky Revised Statutes identify the Jailer, and their deputies, as sworn peace officers.
The Daviess County Detention Center has an interesting history. Our first, and most prominent, story is regarding Jailer William J. Lucas who served from 1882 until his death in 1884. He was shot and killed in the performance of his duty on July 13, 1884.
According to an article published in the Semi-Weekly Messenger on July 15, 1884, Jailer Lucas was shot and killed while protecting Inmate Dick May. After Jailer Lucas was shot, the mob removed May and hung him "to a tree in the court-house yard." No one was ever prosecuted for the murders of Jailer Lucas or May.
After Jailer Lucas' death, his wife, Millicent Summers Lucas, became jailer. However, just sixteen months into her term, “the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that she could not legally serve as an elected official since - being a woman - she could not vote in the Commonwealth.” However, it is believed she is the first female to hold public office in our Commonwealth.
Jailer Lucas is buried at Owensboro’s Elmwood Cemetery.