Madison County leaders plan to expand the county jail by 32 beds.
When exactly that addition will be completed, who will handle the construction, how much it will actually cost — these things are still to be determined.
But county commissioners talked with Sheriff Kip Thomas about the project Aug. 26, with Thomas providing pricing estimates submitted by Turner, Hogan and New South construction companies. Prices estimates were from $1.56 million to $2.6 million, but these were rough projections, not actual bids. Those prices could change once the county actually advertises for bids.
While the construction price is one cost consideration, the board is also interested in the annual expense of a bigger jail. Sheriff Thomas says that a minimum of four new employees will be needed at the jail. There will also be increases in food and utility costs. BOC chairman Anthony Dove estimates a $200,000 to $250,000 increase in annual maintenance and operation expenses. And Thomas said this is probably a good guess at the cost.
County commissioners put the jail expansion on the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) referendum for 2008. Back then, Madison County was spending upwards of $100,000 housing prisoners out of the county. There are no facilities at the jail to house female inmates. Sheriff Thomas worked out an arrangement with Elbert County to swap some of their male inmates for Madison County’s female inmates, reducing the housing out expense.
But Thomas has said the county needs a long-term solution to the female inmate housing issue. Earlier this year, he recommended doubling the capacity of the 64-bed jail. But other leaders have said the annual expense of such a jail would be too much. So, the county is now pushing forward with a 32-bed expansion.
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