By Alton Mitchell
The Chambers County jail is designed to be the home for roughly 135 residents who have found themselves operating outside the norms of the law. As of Monday night the jail log showed more than 160 inmates housed at the aging County jail in LaFayette. Overcrowding is just one of the problems facing the jail as County Commissioners look for ways to increase revenue to make needed repairs and updates to the aging facility.
Operating a jail is no easy expense and last week commissioners took a step that is designed to help ease some of the cost of maintaining the facility. The county commission recently voted to raise the fee charged to cities in Chambers County for housing their inmates. That vote is now left LaFayette, Valley, and Lanett having to pay the County extra money to house inmates.
Previously the cities in Chambers County were paying a fee of $3.00 per day to house each inmate. The vote last week by commissioners has raised that rate to $10.00 per day per inmate in addition to the standing the $3.00 fee. In addition city governments will now be responsible for medical and dental care for housed inmates as well.
At Monday evenings LaFayette City Council meeting councilors discussed the letter they had received advising about the additional fees they will be facing to house city inmates in the County own facility. LaFayette city council members did not seem very happy with the updated fees.
Councilman Terry G. Mangram questioned the legality of seeking reimbursement from inmates upon release for the charges they racked up while being housed in the jail. City attorney Joseph M. Tucker advised that he would have to look further into the issue of recoupment of funds, but provisions did exist that may allow for the recoupment of funds. Mr. Tucker did also advise that seeking those funds could be a long drawn out process as many people getting out of an incarceration style of living are not immediately able to payback debts incurred.
The changes are set to begin on October 1st. Commissioners are still looking for alternate ways to raise funds for projects at the jail that could include the construction of a barrack style living facility for low level offenders to be housed in. This in addition to making needed repairs to the infrastructure of the aging County jail in LaFayette.