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Jackson County Jail facing overcrowding of inmates due to COVID-19

Updated: Dec. 3, 2020 at 11:40 PM CST
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SCOTTSBORO Ala. (WAFF) - COVID-19 cases are rising in Jackson County and the jail is dealing with overcrowding issues.

Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen said since the pandemic began, they have been running out of space for inmates.

The jail can hold 208 inmates. Currently, there are about 240 housed inside.

“We have beds for 208 people, but the law says we can put people on mats on the floor and that’s what we’ve had to do, Literally, we ran out of mats and had to make an emergency order until we could get about 50 in,” said Harnen.

Harnen said many of the inmates are waiting to be transferred to state prisons, but that’s currently being put on hold.

“A lot of our inmates that are destined to go to the Department of Corrections for prison are not accepted now because they have to take their precautions,” said Harnen.

Every state prisoner starts in a county jail before being transferred.

No one answered the phone on Thursday at the Alabama Department of Corrections when WAFF 48 tried to call about the overcrowding inside the Jackson County Jail.

Harnen said county judges are trying to get bonds for nonviolent offenders to get them out to help reduce the number of inmates inside of the jail.

He also said crime has increased inside the jail as a result of overcrowding.

“Anytime you have more people in one small place you are going to have more chances of more altercations and we’ve seen that in the jail with more altercations with inmate’s in the last several months,” said Harnen.

As of now, Harnen said they have not had any inmates test positive for COVID-19 and will continue to sanitize the jail to keep everyone safe.

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