Lowndes County needs new jail - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lowndes County needs new jail

July 29, 2003

Lowndes County - Rusted pipes, roof leaks, and wall cracks are just three of countless reasons Lowndes County needs a new jail. "The living conditions in this jail are bordering on inhumane," said Captain J.D. Yeager.

Several sinks and shower heads in the jail bathrooms are constantly running, even though their completely turned off. "We've had to cover one of the shower heads with a toothpaste tube, because its so old it can't even be repaired," said Yeager.

The kitchen area was built to prepare about 80 meals. The jail currently houses 570 inmates. "A jail our size should have four times the kitchen area to cook with," said Yeager.

The current jail was built in three phases, first in 1953, next in 1976, and the final phase in 1992. It's spread out over a large area, creating big problems with management and manpower.

"When the officers have to come from one area to the next, it's a long way to travel, and a lot of doors to go through," said Yeager. "If a fight had broke out, it could be a few minutes before someone gets there."

But the biggest problem comes in security. Several of the cell door locks can be opened with a little effort from the inmates. "These locks are obsolete, and if they work at it hard enough, the inmates can get out on their own," said Yeager.

The switches on the main control board are also barely working. "When this board goes down, we have not control of the doors in the jail," said Yeager.

Captain Yeager says the jail conditions are a lawsuit waiting to happen. He estimates it would cost about 15 million dollars to build a much-needed, new facility.

County commissioners are in agreement that a new jail is needed.  They're trying to find a way to fit a new facility into the county budget.

posted at 2:15 by ashley.harper@walb.com

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