Female, juvenile cells planned

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 13, 2013

Expansion plans at the Covington County Jail could include not only a women’s addition, but it could also mean room to house juveniles.

County commissioners and Sheriff Dennis Meeks decided at Wednesday’s meeting to “get the ball rolling” on the project to combat overcrowding at the jail.

Chairman Bill Godwin said previously that the area is designed to house 24 women. On Wednesday, he said within the past month occupancy numbers have been as high as 52.

“That’s more than 100 percent capacity,” he said. “I’d like to see us get started and find out an estimated cost by seeking proposals. Maybe even include a juvenile section.”

For the last six days, the number of female inmates was steady at 38.

Meeks said there is no juvenile section in the jail since the space is being used to house female inmates. Currently, juveniles are transported to a housing facility.

“(The expansion) is something that’s been needed for a long time,” Meeks said.

Commissioners agreed the first step is to seek proposals from architects with experience in correctional facility construction.

“This can’t be just a building,” Godwin said. “There are so many more requirements.”

While the operation of the county jail falls under the direction of the sheriff, the responsibility of the property lies with the county.

Godwin said previously he envisioned the addition as a “bare minimum security, four-walls and a ceiling dormitory-style structure,”

“Most of the women in the jail aren’t there for violent crimes,” he said. “It’s bad checks and drug use, but if there is a problem with an inmate, then that inmate could go inside to a holding cell.”