Lee County jail hopes to ease overcrowding - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lee County jail hopes to ease overcrowding

February 21, 2006

Lee County-- The Lee County jail has more inmates than beds. Due to overcrowding, the jail needs more money. The sheriff's office wants county commissioners to give them more money and extra beds. Commissioners plan to find other, cheaper methods to ease the problems.

Right now, the cup runneth over at Lee County's jailhouse. The jail is designed to hold 74 inmates but the population is much more.

"We're above capacity," says County Chairman Jackie Sizemore.

"If we have more in our population at that time, we have to send them to other counties to house them," says County Administrator Pamela Thompson.

Inmates housed in other facilities cost the county extra money. "It's somewhere around 37 beds, and you figure $51 a day," says Sizemore, "It's a lot of money." The jail needs an extra $130,000 to deal with higher than expected population levels. That money could come from an amendment to Lee County's 2006 budget.

"We keep a tight eye on each line item so if any one line item is going over, we go ahead and make an adjustment to that line," says Thompson. Commissioners don't want to cross that line just yet. They're looking at alternate ways to cut costs but increase beds.

"We've been talking to Chief Parker and Sheriff Breeden and they've come up with some pretty good ideas on how we can accomplish that," says Sizemore.

County Chairman Jackie Sizemore says the jail has an empty recreation pod that's underutilized. "We're going to look at trying to convert that over to a non-violent area that we can house some prisoners in," says Sizemore.

They're also looking at possibly doubling up beds at the jail. "We're just trying to figure out ways that we can handle this situation in-house," says Sizemore.

The inmate problem could soon be eased in Lee County. "It won't fix it forever but it will get us through another couple of years," says Sizemore. But in a couple of years, more lawbreakers could have the county facing more prison budget issues.

Chief Parker will meet with architects this week on possible design ideas. County commissioners say local contractors would also be a cheap solution to getting a bathroom and beds in the recreation area quickly.

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