Jackson Co. jail dealing with under-staffing

The Jackson county sheriff's office is working to hire more corrections officers. It's an issue we've reported on, in counties across North Alabama.

Posted: Nov 20, 2019 5:40 PM

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office is working to hire more corrections officers.

It's an issue reported in counties across North Alabama.

"We've had serious fights where one of our corrections deputies was hurt pretty bad," said Sheriff Chuck Phillips.

Phillips says under-staffing has been an issue at the Jackson County Jail for years, but right now it's particularly bad. He says one corrections officer is leaving in 2 weeks. Another was fired this month after his arrest for bringing contraband in the jail.

"It's kind of like a skeleton crew even when everybody's here," said Phillips.

The Jackson County Commission chairman and sheriff said the money just isn't in the budget to hire more deputies.

"Jackson County doesn't have enough income to put extra jail staff here," said Phillips.

While the sheriff isn't necessarily advocating for a tax increase, commission chair Tim Guffey says a penny sales tax increase would raise $6 million for the county in 1 year. He wants those funds to go toward roads, bridges, deputies and building maintenance.

Some taxpayers said they're willing to pay more to get this done.

"Because we need a few more officers....We need more protection," said Linda Bozarth.

Lawmakers say that sentiment doesn't translate to the voting booth. A one-cent increase was voted down in 2015, but could be on the ballot again sometime next year. In the meantime, the sheriff's office is working with what it has and sometimes asking nearby agencies for help.

For the tax increase to get on the ballot the state lawmakers would have to approve it. The legislative session starts back up again in February.

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