Walton County Commissioners looking at potential jail designs

Walton County Commission Chairman Kevin Little said he and two of the other commissioners have been taking a look at jail designs to see what type of jail would work best for the replacement jail for Walton County.

“We went to see four different jail sites to figure out what type of jail and what type of system we need for Walton County,” Little said. “We did find out you can spend $30 million on a jail or you can spend $50 million on a $30 million jail. The $55 million jail in Athens Clark County is no more impressive than the $24 million jail in Bryan County. Once we have compiled the information we will sit down with the Sheriff and figure out what we’re going to do. We have to do the research before we go out and buy. This will be our latest investment over the next 10 years. It will be somewhere between $25 million and $45 million over the next 10 years. We don’t want to spend it, but as the population grows we’re going to have to spend it.”

That a new jail is needed was supported by the fact that the pipes in the kitchen of the current jail have collapsed and the food for the inmates is having to be prepared across the street at the senior center and then transported to the jail.

Little said there is a new Special Option Sales Tax vote coming up next year, but the money for the new jail was allocated out of the current SOLOST. He said, however, it was possible that extra money would have to be allocated out of the new SPLOST depending on whether or not the costs have gone up. $45 million has been set aside for the new jail.

A study that was done on the current jail two years ago revealed that there is a high suicide rate and excessive length of stay. The study was done to see whether to build a new jail or expand on the current one. The issue of location also has always been a problem. Little said he would like to see a new jail built, but on the site of the current jail.

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