COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Muscogee County Sheriff Office is responding to what a former county jail inmate has to say about the danger posed by gangs inside the jail's walls.
They say they are very much aware of the number of jail inmates that belong to gangs.
Their public information officer tells News Leader 9 right now there are 400 known gang members among the current jail population of over 1000 inmates.
More than that, the Sheriff's Office also heard part of our conversation with this inmate when he spoke about what he called brutal beatings at the hands of gang members.
"I've seen guys get tortured, shower-spanked with sandals...for hours on hours," says a former inmate. "Their own gang members, they beat the worst."
The sheriff's office has been running what it calls an "inmate behavior management" program, and that this has helped curb the number of inmate assaults over the past several years.
"I'm very scared to talk about it. I do fear for my life. But I don't mind talking about something that's going to better our world, and gangs are not bettering our world... it's making it worse," says the former inmate.
In looking at the Sheriff's Office's data, it shows a steady decrease in inmate assaults. The goal for both deputies and this anonymous inmate is to root out the problem both inside and outside the jail.
Major Joe McCrea with the MCSO says, "That dropped to 307 in 2015, 266 in 2016, and 2016 - I think it was in the spring of that year - that this program was implemented."
Major McCrea tells News Leader 9 despite this progress, the sheriff's office could use more help, and that's what they've been doing, trying to recruit new officers to fill nearly 30 open positions working inside the jail.
Part of that problem, which both parties agree on, is that gangs are able to recruit younger members even while in jail - something this inmate agrees is a growing problem.