Built to hold 280 inmates, the Lauderdale County jail holds, on average, 270 inmates per day.
“We’ve had as many as 320 in our facility before,” said Ward Calhoun III, chief deputy of the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department.
Concerns about reaching maximum capacity and potential overcrowding have county officials exploring options for a new facility. On Monday, the board of supervisors agreed to a non-binding resolution to determine what could be done.
“We’ll be working to provide the board with the different styles of jails, the type of monitoring and supervision, and what way might we do that at a more cost-effective way than what we’re doing currently,” said Calhoun.
The Lauderdale County Detention Facility used to be located on the fourth floor of what is now the courthouse. It opened in 1937 and then moved to its current facility in 1998.
“We have some issues in terms of wear and tear. You’re talking about a building that is used every day of the year, 24 hours a day,” said Calhoun.
And with high populations, Calhoun says it’s difficult to do maintenance.
“Simple things like painting and repair work. Inmates have a lot of time to do destructive things. You would think, charge those inmates, and we have in the past. They don’t have a job. They can’t pay back to care for the items that are torn up.”
Calhoun said having too many inmates also threatens security and that housing inmates in jails in other counties is costly. Therefore, the sheriff’s department is currently making the most of its resources.
“We are working diligently in training employees and as well as trying to use technology and every measure we can to take care of the safety of each individual remanded to our custody.”
So far, six options regarding a new facility have been presented to the board of supervisors. Some residents believe the facility should not remain downtown.