Lauderdale County Sheriff: 'We're in a crisis situation with jail overcrowding'

Singleton said the need for a new jail is dire.

Posted: Sep. 10, 2018 5:37 PM
Updated: Sep. 10, 2018 6:35 PM

Monday, Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton held a press conference to talk about the counties jail overcrowding issues.

The Lauderdale County Detention Center was originally built to house 150 inmates in 1996. Throughout the years it's been modified to have 203 beds but Singleton says they've been averaging 298 inmates a day.

On Sunday, they had a total of 328 inmates in the jail.

"We have 203 beds and last night we had 125 people sleeping on the floor," said Singleton.

Singleton says they are in a crisis situation when it comes to jail overcrowding. He is going to ask the Lauderdale County Commission
to send it to a vote of the people to see if they would increase their property taxes to pay for a new $35 million jail.

"I don't like taxes more than anyone else. I pay more taxes than I want to pay but we have got to have a new jail," said Singleton. "We're going to have to pay for it or were gonna keep turning these thieves loose and they are gonna keep stealing everything you've got that's what they've been doing."

Singleton says he doesn't like the idea of a tax increase but says there is no way they can continue operating like this.

"A federal judge will step in and say you will build it and you will add this much taxes until you get it paid for and that's going to happen if we don't voluntarily step up to the plate and take action to get something going," said Singleton. "Eventually it will end up in federal court and a federal judge will tell us what to do."

Singleton said ideally a five mil property tax increase could cover the cost of a future jail. He'd like it to have about 600 beds to cover future growth. Singleton says this issue started when the Prison Reform act passed. It keeps class D felony offenders in county jails rather than prisons.

"The prison reform bill that was passed two years ago is the exact reason in daily population in our county jail and I know other counties are experiencing the same thing," said Singleton.

Singleton said he wants to hear from citizens and get their input on this situation.

"They are in the process of building a women's dormitory for $1.5 million which will help ease some of the overcrowding but that facility will only have about 50 beds. It is expected to be done in December 2018.

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