Lauderdale County Sheriff says jail overcrowding must be solved

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – On Monday afternoon he stated enough is enough. Detention center overcrowding in Lauderdale County has reached an all time high. Sheriff Rick Singleton is calling the county commission into action to do something.

Sheriff Rick Singleton

It’s a facility built for 150 inmates; modified a few years ago, it is supposed to hold 203. Monday morning's population at the Lauderdale County Detention Center was 328, way more than it's designed for.

“People get ill; their tempers flare," Singleton said. "We had several fights over the weekend among the inmates. It’s dangerous for the inmates. It’s dangerous for the corrections deputies who work down there."

According to Singleton, this year the detention center is averaging 298 inmates a day. He said county commissioners have discussed building a new jail for three years now, and have even had conceptual drawings done.

“369 beds are not doing anything to prepare for the future,” Singleton said. “The conceptual drawings also call for an additional floor, which was an additional 220 beds, which would make it a 589-bed facility. And that is absolutely what we need to build if we are going to build it anytime soon.”

Singleton is proposing a 5-mill property tax increase to be voted on by the people. Building a new jail will cost upwards of $35 million. Singleton says as much as he dislikes taxes, it’s something the residents need to do to keep those terrorizing their homes behind bars.

“The time for talk has come to an end; it’s time we do something," he said. "I’m going to propose to the County Commission that we put a vote to the people.”

It’s now up to the Lauderdale County Commission to take action on Singleton’s very public request. Sheriff Singleton says the detention center built in 1996 was mandated by a federal judge who didn’t give the county commission a choice on what to build. He wants to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

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