Jail rolls decline - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Jail rolls decline

Posted: Updated:
Jail Director Colonel John Ostrander Jail Director Colonel John Ostrander
D. A. Greg Edwards D. A. Greg Edwards
The Dougherty Co. jail The Dougherty Co. jail
  • More WALB News10 HeadlinesMore News HeadlinesMore>>

  • Albany cheerleading team could be on reality show

    Albany cheerleading team could be on reality show

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:42 PM EDT2014-07-31 03:42:06 GMT
    Dr. Latonya Peterson, Assistant CoachDr. Latonya Peterson, Assistant Coach
    An Albany cheerleading team could be featured on a reality show. More than 50 girls tried out to join the two time national champion Albany Elite “Tiger Paws.”More >>
    An Albany cheerleading team could be featured on a reality show. More than 50 girls tried out to join the two time national champion Albany Elite “Tiger Paws.”More >>
  • Veterans to learn about benefits at American Legion event

    Veterans to learn about benefits at American Legion event

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:34 PM EDT2014-07-31 03:34:18 GMT
    William D. Simmons, American Legion 2nd District CommanderWilliam D. Simmons, American Legion 2nd District Commander
    American Legion leaders are preparing for an event to help South Georgia veterans learn more about the benefits they earned. More >>
    American Legion leaders are preparing for an event to help South Georgia veterans learn more about the benefits they earned. More >>
  • MCLB hosts education summit

    MCLB hosts education summit

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:26 PM EDT2014-07-31 03:26:53 GMT
    Latreesa Perryman, MCLB School Liaison Latreesa Perryman, MCLB School Liaison
    Military families got to ask questions about the best education choices for their children .Superintendents and other officials from public, private, home school, and online institutions in Dougherty, Lee, and Worth Counties attended Wednesday night’s Military Child Education Summit at the Marine Corps Logistics Base.More >>
    Military families got to ask questions about the best education choices for their children .Superintendents and other officials from public, private, home school, and online institutions in Dougherty, Lee, and Worth Counties attended Wednesday night’s Military Child Education Summit at the Marine Corps Logistics Base.More >>
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

 The Dougherty County jail inmate population is down to its lowest average level in three years, and that's Good news for taxpayers.

Sheriff's Office officials and prosecutors say they're making the justice system more efficient. The numbers show that effort is working.

The jail is the biggest budget item in Dougherty County's general fund at $13.2 million. Officials say cooperation to cut the inmate population is a big help in fighting that huge cost to the community.

Behind those locked doors at the Dougherty County jail, in August 2010 the average inmate population was close to one thousand people, almost one percent of the entire county population.

But in December 2012 that average inmate population was down to "Most jails are overcrowded, or at least at capacity. We're well below capacity. We're charging fewer dollars to taxpayers than just about any time in my career," said Jail Director Colonel John Ostrander.

Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards says all the court officials, law enforcement, and state agencies involved, are working together to speed up justice. "We can get the most efficient court time and move people out of the pre-trial detainee stage that costs the county and citizens money, to a stage from that point where they are part of the state system."

Today the jail is well below its maximum population of 1230. One of their 15 pods is empty, so maintenance is being done on the empty one at a much reduced cost. The District Attorney says reducing the jail population during tough budget times has to also keep public safety first.

"It's a balancing act," Edwards said. "We want to make sure all the people who need to be incarcerated, those who are a direct threat to the safety of our population and property, be in jail."

Sheriff's officials say they know taxpayers see the jail as a necessary expense, but one they would love to reduce. "It they had a choice where their tax dollars are going to go, they would much rather it go to education," Ostrander said.

And both the D.A. and Sheriff's officials say drug addiction and mental health issues are the biggest factor for inmates that repeatedly end up locked up. They agree getting the community better educated, with better jobs, is the best way to reduce the jail population even further.

With state law changing many more felony crimes to misdemeanors, the population of county jails is expected to increase soon, as more offenders serve their time in county jails rather than state prison.

But Dougherty County officials say they are optimistic they can continue to reduce the jail population here. Every month the average jail population is sent to court and law enforcement officials to keep them up to date on how their efforts are working.

 

Copyright 2013 WALB.  All rights reserved.