Sheriff Jarrard and Captain Scott of the Lumpkin County Detention Center appeared before the Lumpkin County BOC during the September Work Session reporting the questionable and possibly dangerous state of the security system at the county jail.
Major problems include: a failing system, no service manual, manufacturer gone out of business and parts not available.
There are great potential liability issues for both the Sheriff’s Department and the BOC. It is one thing to be between a rock and a hard place on the budget; but lawsuits you could not win would only make matters worse. The Sheriff and the BOC owe a duty to maintain a reasonably safe environment for incarcerated persons.
If your son or daughter were locked up for a traffic violation, you would expect them to be safe in jail. Just think about that.
Jarrard came with a plan to pay for a new security system. He pointed out that he had committed to the BOC that he would bring in some $300,000 to the county General Fund from housing prisoners from other counties. He expects to bring in much more than that amount. He requests using the additional amount he can bring in to fund a security system. Remember, the former Sheriff did not bring in this kind of money from housing out of county prisoners.
County Manager Stan Kelley responded that while he recognized the need; excess collections were required to go into the General Fund and not be dispersed based on requests from any specific department. He proposed instead funding from SPLOST since this would be a capital improvement for the Sheriff’s Department.
Commissioners discussed the issue seeming to recognize the importance of security for the jail and its inmates. Chairman Raber recommended a Special Called Meeting to discuss the matter. He pointed out that there was a request for SPLOST funds from the Water Authority.
It seems that the Water Authority may be eligible for a loan of $800,000 that would not have to be repaid if the county will commit 30% or $240,000 from SPLOST funding for the project. More than that amount was originally listed from SPLOST for the Water Authority. It would be a shame to miss out on this deal to improve the county water system.
So the commissioners do have major decisions. It seems that the demand for those SPLOST funds just keeps growing. They need to hear from you.