Russell County breaks ground on $3 million expansion

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | email

PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) -  Over-crowded jails will soon be a thing of the past in Russell County, and the new construction rings up just under $3 million. This addition will help with not only the size, but the safety in the jail.

With one flick of the shovel, Russell County is taking huge steps in a new direction for the jail. And it couldn't come at a better time considering they are already filled over capacity.

Sheriff Heath Taylor told News Leader Nine, "If we continue to operate like we have been, it's a problem. It allows inevitably for other things to happen that would not normally happen if you were not under-staffed."

The jail, which was built 20 years ago, is equipped to house 226 inmates. Sheriff Heath Taylor says at times they have nearly 400 inside the facility, "Not only is it a crowding problem, it is a staffing problem not to be able to have enough employees to do the things that you have to do: keeping it clean, keeping the inmates secure, moving them from one location to the next, then up front for visitation, for medical calls, for everything that you have to do... Having low staff creates a problem."

But relief is on the way. Not only will the jail grow by more than 13,000 square feet, but 13 new employees will come on board, taking stress off the existing staff.

Sheriff Taylor said, "60 men in one pod in a day space and you have one correction officer that's supposed to handle that pod. What exactly can he do by himself with 60 men if a fight breaks out, he can't do anything by himself. He has to wait on people to get there to help him from another section of the jail."

After the groundbreaking, construction on the new addition will start immediately.

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