Women’s jail addition opens; county ups rate to house prisoners

Published 12:32 am Thursday, September 29, 2016


Sheriff Dennis Meeks said Wednesday he is slowly moving women into the new jail addition. “We have started moving some of the women over,” he said. “We are technically open now.”

Meeks said the hold-up is that numbers had shot up in the county jail in recent weeks.

“Today we are at 242,” he said. “We shot up from 190 to 240 and at we’ve been running in the 240 to 250s for a few months now. And to be honest we really didn’t have the budget.”

Overcrowding was the reason for the new jail addition, but even with the new addition on open, they jail is still 22 people over capacity so far this week, the sheriff said.

With the opening of the new addition, Meeks said the capacity increased from 180 to 220.

Meeks said the number of women housed in the Covington County Jail has increased.

“I have 48 females today,” he said. “We used to average 35 in a 28-bed women’s area.”

There were 194 males in the jail on Wednesday.

At Wednesday’s county commission meeting, commissioners OK’d a $3 per day increase to municipalities for inmate housing from $24 to $27.

Commission Chairman Bill Godwin said that there has been a 10 percent cost in operations.

“We will raise the rate to $27 per day for all municipalities,” he said.

Meal prices will stay at $7.70 per day, the sheriff said.

Commissioners asked about how the municipalities responded and Godwin said no one had responded because they haven’t sent the proposal yet.

Godwin said he took the jail budget from last year and accounted for the addition of three officers and more space to heat and cool with the additional space.

  • In River Falls, Town Clerk MaryAnn Andrews said they spent $4,104. That number does not include the price for meals paid to the sheriff.
  • In Opp, City Clerk Connie Smith said the total spent in that account was $40,481 through Sept. 16, however; she said that she would estimated about half of that total goes to feed the three or four trustees the city of Opp keeps.
  • In Gantt, Town Clerk Christy Cartwright said they have paid $264 for 2016.
  • In Andalusia, from October through August, the city has paid $67,800 in inmate housing.
  • In Florala, City Clerk Kathy Rathel said they had forked out $25,992 for the last 12 months.