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Commission wants funding for jail improvements and COVID aid

The grant would include costs for three years of additional COVID-19 tests, PPE, a CourtCall video system, and four new corrections officers.
Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 10:10 PM CDT
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LIMESTONE CO., Ala. (WAFF) - On Monday, the Limestone County Commission voted unanimously to apply for a grant from the Alabama Department of Public Health that would help jails through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The grant will be almost $800,000, and the commission hopes it will end up in the hands of the Limestone County Jail leadership.

The grant would include costs for three years of additional COVID-19 tests, PPE, a CourtCall video system, and most importantly, four new corrections officers.

“One of our greatest issues during COVID has been staff because we have to deal with these people and you have to keep them isolated. There’s a quarantine period for every new arrest that comes in,” said Waddell.

Assistant Jail Administrator Lieutenant Tammy Waddell says it’s been challenging for staff at times.

“We are really looking at trying to simplify how we’re doing quarantine,” said Waddell.

Waddell says if there were additional staff, they could have Corrections Officers focus solely on that. She believes it would help minimize exposure to everyone at the jail.

“So, we don’t have to worry about them leaving a cell that’s quarantined, and then going to a food cart, and going to another cell block to hand out food trays,” said Waddell.

The CourtCall video system would allow inmates to appear in court remotely, which Waddell says is helpful for multiple reasons.

“Something we probably needed for a long time because we’ve had violent offenders even before the pandemic took place, and there’s just some people that are impossible to transport,”

Getting the grant from the state health department would prevent taxpayers from having to foot the bill. That’s something Limestone County Commission Director of Community Relations and Grants Michelle Williamson says is really good for residents.

“This shows that not only are we good stewards of our money through the budget, we also look for other avenues that we can bring money in that lessens the burden on the budget,” said Williamson.

Williamson says there is around $5 million of ADPH grant money for Alabama county jails to apply for.

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