Sheriff and BOC continue to discuss jail overcrowding

The inmate population at the Grady County detention center has dropped somewhat, but it remains higher than the approved maximum population of 125.
Grady County Sheriff Harry Young and Jail Administrator Captain Tim Gainous appeared before the county commission Tuesday night to continue discussions about the overcrowded situation at the county jail.
As of Tuesday, the current jail population stood at 140 inmates.
Sheriff Young said his conversations with the local judges had been positive and he said they are all willing to work with him and the county to combat the overcrowding.
The sheriff has made contact with all of the local judges with the exception of Judge A. Wallace Cato, but the sheriff said he would be meeting with him as well.
“All of the judges I’ve talked with have been very cooperative. They let all of the weekend prisoners out and that helps a little bit. I have the option to give four days of credit for every day served so we are doing some of that,” the sheriff said.
According to Sheriff Young, both State Court Judge Bill Bass and Cairo and Whigham Municipal Court Judge Josh Bell are giving inmates some two for one credits to assist with the overcrowding.
“The bottom line is we’ve got to get it down. Long range we may need to look at making repairs and installing a sprinkler system to the old correctional institute building and using it. Or we could look at building a new pod to existing jail,” Sheriff Young said.
The sheriff pointed out if an additional pod was built the county could contract with other jurisdictions to house inmates and use the proceeds to pay for the debt to construct the additional pod. Sheriff Young says that has been done successfully in other jurisdictions including Hall County.
The sheriff says the overcrowding has forced his office to purchase cots for the additional inmates to sleep on and these have been used as weapons by inmates involved in fights.
“They could be used as weapons against our own people as well,” Sheriff Young said.
Another option would be to house some inmates at a rate of $30 per day in Thomas County. “That is the cheapest rate I’ve found around here,” the sheriff said.
Vice Chairman Elwyn Childs, who presided Tuesday night in the absence of Chairman Charles Norton, who was ill, thanked the sheriff and Captain Gainous for their research into possible alternatives and solutions to the problem.
Commissioner Al Ball suggested at some point the sheriff bring back to the commission proposals to utilize the former correctional institute facility versus construction of a new pod to the current jail which would include the various costs associated with both proposals for the board to review.
County Administrator Rusty Moye commented, “what we better hope for is that the economy improves and we have less folks getting locked up in jail.”

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