Georgia Jails Jammed

By: Caroline Gonzmart Email
By: Caroline Gonzmart Email

It's a problem that's been going on for decades -- county jails designed to hold a certain number of inmates are filled beyond capacity.

Now, some sheriffs say the problem is too costly -- and has gone on too long -- to be ignored.

Says Sheriff Wiley Griffin, of Decatur County, "I've been sheriff 12 years, and we've met on this and ... even in the good [economic] times, they still wouldn't address the problem with state inmates staying in the county jails. The per diem, they only pay us 22 dollars -- most county jails cost anywhere from 45 to 55 dollars to house an inmate."

Sheriffs say the burden of overcrowding could be alleviated if the state of Georgia stepped up: 6,000 inmates await transfer to prisons across the state -- but in the meantime, they're being held in county facilities, sometimes for months

In Grady County, the problem has already reached a boiling point -- the jail that was meant to hold 125 is now well over that number.

Grady's sheriff, Harry Young, says he's been working to battle the overcrowding issue.

Says Young, "What we're trying to do is talk to the people in the state prisons and let them know we've got severe over-crowding here, and if they could just come pick [inmates] up when they're supposed to, within a week, or two weeks, we won't have a problem."

We reached out to the Georgia Department of Corrections, to find out why there was such a delay in inmate transfer, but they haven't responded yet.

Until the problem is resolved, county jails in south Georgia are going to continue to feel a financial -- and physical -- squeeze.


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