Plans underway for new Muscogee Co. Jail & sheriff’s office

Published: May. 1, 2023 at 7:17 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - We are learning new details about how the Muscogee County jail is operating plus plans in the works for a new jail and sheriff’s office.

At last check, inmates were experiencing overcrowding and the building has been in rough shape due age and maintenance issues.

The City of Columbus recently approved 3 million dollars for a study that is underway now.

Muscogee County Sheriff Greg Countryman said this is long overdue as the current jail’s structure is experiencing several maintenance problems, especially with plumbing.

“One thing that we know that in any new jail is that we have to have the latest technology and make sure we are working smarter and not harder,” Countryman said.

The Muscogee County Jail, located on 10th Street in Columbus was built in the mid 1980′s with an extension added in the early 2000′s. Now, 20 years later since the last building update, the structure is experiencing several maintenance issues.

“We’ve had plumbing companies there for eight hours a day each day for the past few months, so they’ve been able to help us out,” Countryman said.

The jail’s current capacity is 1,069 inmates, and right now, the sheriff explained they are below capacity, sitting at roughly 1,050.

As far as conditions for inmates, he compared the jail to it’s own city within a city, serving people from all walks of life who have been arrested... including those who struggle with mental health.

“There are always two sides to the stories,” Countryman told News Leader 9′s Ashlee Williams. “We spend a lot of money on medication. I think we have a pretty decent jail medical provider because they will send you to the hospital for a little bit of anything.”

Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson told us that financially, plans for the new jail make the most sense.

“It was much more efficient to consider getting a design put together so that we could replace the jail and have it functional for a very long time instead of buying a little time with still a pretty major investment,” Henderson said.

Also in the works: A 16-million-dollar sheriff’s office is expected to open in the former TYSYS building on 10th Street. Renovations are slated to be finished by the end of this year.

“There’s going to be a courtroom in there also, there would be a third recorder’s court, so the building is roughly 80,000 square feet,” Countryman explained. It’s a building we can officially grow in.”

Right now, a special committee is deciding on a building company to work with on the new jail, so no word yet on a timeline on when construction will start.

Sheriff Countryman added the department has less than 20 vacancies right now and encourages anyone interested in joining the force to apply.