Overcrowding in South Georgia Jails

Some south Georgia jails are overflowing with inmates. How does the state plans to fix the problem?

It's a problem that's been going on for decades – county jails designed to hold a certain number of inmates are filled beyond capacity.

Now, some sheriffs say the problem is too costly and has gone on too long to be ignored.

"I've been sheriff 12 years and we've met on this and even in the good times, they still wouldn't address the problem with state inmates staying in the county jails,” said Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin. “The per diem, they only pay us $22. Most county jails cost anywhere from 45 to 55 dollars to house an inmate."

Sheriffs say the burden of overcrowding could be alleviated if the state of Georgia stepped up. Six thousand inmates await transfer to prisons across the state, but in the meantime they're being held in county facilities, sometimes for months.

In Grady County, the problem has already reached a boiling point -- the jail that was meant to hold 125 is now well over that number.

"What we're trying to do is talk to the people in the state prisons and let them know we've got severe over-crowding here, and if they could just come pick them up when they're supposed to, within a week, or two weeks, we won't have a problem," said Grady County Sheriff Harry Young.

We reached out to the Georgia Department of Corrections, to find out why there was such a delay in inmate transfer ... but they haven't responded yet.

Until the problem is resolved, county jails in south Georgia are going to continue to feel a financial and physical squeeze.

The Grady County Sheriff's Office says it's currently in negotiations for some inmates to be transferred to surrounding counties.


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