Decatur agrees to jail deal with Morgan County - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Decatur agrees to jail deal with Morgan County

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Rendering from GBW Architects. Rendering from GBW Architects.

The City of Decatur is getting out of the jail business. An agreement with Morgan County means, in the future, city inmates will be held at the county jail. County and city leaders held a joint press conference before the city council voted on whether to accept the deal, which they did by a four-to-one vote. Supporters said it will keep them from having to renovate the current city jail, or have to build a new one. and the deal with the county will keep costs fixed over the long haul.

Decatur will give the county $2 million up front to help pay for a three story county jail annex, and then pay $100,000 a month for 20 years. Morgan County will fund the estimated additional $5 million in construction costs. The current city jail hold up to 120 inmates. By closing the jail, the Decatur Police Department can create more office space. They currently rent some space away from city hall. Police Chief Ed Taylor said with no need to have officers manning a jail, there will be more cops of the streets.

"In my judgement, this opportunity will give the citizens of the city of Decatur and the Decatur Police Department the most efficient operation of a correctional facility. Our current correctional facility, parts of it are forty years old. Others are twenty years old. It's an outdated facility," Taylor said.

Councilman Billy Jackson was the only council member to vote against the agreement. He said he wasn't against the idea, but thought they should have taken more time to look at all options, and to get public input.

"We've given up all control of our jail, and I think that should be a concern for all of us. But, I do think that the biggest things is we have not explored every option that we possibly could. And I think we owe our citizens, from a fiscal point of view, to explore every option that is before us. And we have just not done that," Jackson said.

Morgan County will also pay $400,000 for a new community corrections facility. The jail annex will be minimum security, for lower-risk inmates. Officials hope to choose a bid quickly, then break ground by the end of October. Morgan County Commission Chair Ray Long said it should be operational by the end of October 2014.

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