THOMAS CO., GA (WALB) - Thomas County commissioners are discussing the fate of it's county prison.
It is one of only 23 in the state that still offers inmate labor.
Last Thursday, the board held a meeting to discuss the cost of building a new facility.
With budget meetings coming up in the next few months a decision has to be made to either build a new facility and keep inmate labor or close it and hire people to replace those services.
The Thomas County Prison employs 29 people and houses 185 inmates, most of which work for the county as part of the inmate labor program.
The prison is almost 100 years old. It was built in 1922.
"Since then there have been additions, modifications, and remodeling over the year so that's the big concern now is the age and the condition of the prison," said Mike Stephenson, County Manager.
Back in April, plans were presented to the commissioners for a new facility. The estimated cost, according to a plan presented by the prison warden, is $5.5 million dollars. Building it with the help of inmate labor it was estimated at $3.8 million.
"So before the county commission committed to that they wanted to look at the financial impact if we gave up inmate labor and switched over to the regular work force," said Stephenson.
A report given out at the commission meeting in June said the total would be more than a million dollars.
However, the commission said those numbers have changed and plan to have a finalized report by the end of the month.
Many people have voiced their input on this topic including State Court Judge Mark Mitchell who wrote the commission a letter.
Part of it reads "In my view, the benefits to the County from the continued operation of the Prison are well worth the costs to the taxpayers to modernize the facility. "
The commission hopes to have all of this figured out by November.
At the most recent meeting, no commissioners indicated they were favor of keeping the prison open regardless of the cost.
If they close the prison all together they will not be building a new one.