Lauderdale County Sheriff seeks solution to crowded jail situation

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Lauderdale County is looking for a solution to crowding issues at its detention center.

Constructed more than 20 years ago, the Lauderdale County Detention Center has seen several modifications over the years.

The capacity has climbed from 150 when it opened to 203. The trouble the county faces – last year the detention center averaged 228 inmates a day.

“We just don’t have the space to accommodate the demand right now,” stated Sheriff Rick Singleton. “And it’s just going to get worse, so we’re trying to look at something for an immediate fix to help us weather the storm.”

Sheriff Singleton believes the short-term answer to his crowding issues at the detention center stands right next door at the Lauderdale County Work Release Center.

He said the facility is divided into two sections. With some modifications, the sheriff said part of the Work Release Center can be converted into a place to house inmates, saving the county money until they define a more long-term solution.

“We’re talking to the county commission about getting an architect to take a look at that, see exactly what would be involved in making those modifications so we could utilize that for 50 minimum security prisoners,” Singleton explained.

Singleton stresses they wouldn’t be hardened criminals. They would be people with traffic tickets, bad checks and misdemeanor warrants.

The Lauderdale County Commission plans to address the crowding issues at the jail in the coming months.

Long term, Sheriff Singleton said the county will have to look at building a new detention center in the next ten to 15 years.