Leon County Jail Overcrowding

Overcrowding at the Leon County Jail continues. Wednesday night's inmate estimate was 1,208. Jail capacity is 900.

To ease the problem, the Leon County Commission is setting aside $2 million to add more beds and to rehabilitate inmates who qualify. Twenty five inmates slept on cots Wednesday night, a number the jail administrator has seen climb as high as 73.

MAJ Carl Bennett, Leon County Jail Administrator, said, "I've gotten phone calls from quite a few parents and they're requesting their child be put in a bed, and matter of fact, some of them think it's inhumane for inmates to sleep on cots."

And he says tensions are running high behind these walls.

The county had already allocated $600,000 for a work camp. That idea has been nixed for now in exchange for another solution to the overcrowding problem, which is to renovate an already existing building, the old jail annex.

Depuy added, "It's really a prudent use of taxpayers’ money and we'll get more bang for the buck housing these people a fraction of what it would cost to do it somewhere else in the community."

The county's added an additional $1.4 million, putting the total cost to $2 million. However, Depuy says it's not just about adding new beds.

Depuy said, "We are actually going to take existing boot camp facility and turn it into about 150 beds that are going to have some sort of treatment programs to go with them as far as teaching people vocations and training."

And with the right training, they’re hoping those same offenders don't wind up behind these walls again. Commissioners also allocated $300,000 in the upcoming budget to enhance existing jail alternative programs like GPS and SCRAM, Secured Continuous Random Alcohol Monitoring.

These programs come at a fraction of the cost of housing an inmate, saving taxpayer dollars. The county says it costs about $52 a day to keep an inmate in jail. The county wants to expand on jail alternative programs because of the cost; GPS about nine dollars a day and SCRAM about six dollars a day.