Colbert County deciding between building new or expanded jail - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Colbert County deciding between building new or expanded jail

(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)
(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)

Colbert County commissioners are looking to build a new jail. The current jail is so overcrowded, it's raising concern for the safety and security of inmates and jailers.

READ MORE: Colbert County Jail needs new facility

On Tuesday, two commissioners and an architect checked out the jail to see if it could expand. Commissioners Darol Bendall and David Black took a tour of the facility to see whether they can renovate the building instead of finding a new location to build a brand new jail. They are still very much in the planning and discussion stage.

The commissioners are looking to see whether the jail can move into the second and third floors. Right now, there are a few office spaces on those levels.

The jail only takes up the fourth floor and has 62 beds. Black said if they can repurpose the building, it will make way for about 150 more beds, which will more than double what they have now.

They've proposed other locations to build a jail, like areas to the south and west of the courthouse as well as property off Highway 72, but the commissioners said they've already gotten a lot of backlash about those spots. Black said the problem is people don't want to have a jail as a neighbor.

“So we are trying to find the lowest cost possible to not burden the citizens as much as, we have to build a jail. We have to maintain one, so we can't avoid the law and right now there's just not extra revenue," said Black.

The sheriff is concerned about where the inmates will go if the commissioners decide to renovate the current facility. He said most other detention centers are full so they don't have a place to hold them. The cost of housing the prisoners and transferring them for court wouldn't be cheap either, and he said he doesn’t have the manpower to do that.

"I think rebuilding an old building like that is going to cost you as much as money, if not more, in the long run than it would be to just build a new building," said Colbert County Sheriff Frank Williamson.

The sheriff said he would really like to sit down and discuss all their options before moving forward on a location.

Black said this is not an easy decision and wants to hear input from the citizens.

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