MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. - More than $1 million is being spent at the Marshall County Jail to bring it into the 21st century and make it look like new.
Many vital components at the jail, including plumbing, electrical and the elevator have not been replaced since it was built in 1985.
Crews installed new door frames in cell block A on Monday.
“I am very happy. It is long overdue,” said Corrections Officer Sgt. Frank Mason.
“You’ll have toilets that don’t work that we’ll have to get the maintenance man to come in and fix. Sometimes that's in the middle of the night. Electrical will blow a fuse. With the elevator being out, our kitchen is in the basement, so we were having to load up Styrofoam plates on carts and carry them up the stairwell to feed three times a day,” added Sgt. Mason.
Crews will also paint the walls to get rid of the existing graffiti.
“It’ll be just like a brand new jail when they finish,” said Sgt. Mason.
Mason said the more than $1 million renovation project is causing some problems at the already overcrowded jail.
“We’re running right at 270 to 300 inmates on average and with one block being closed, we’ve had to double up in the other blocks to offset that,” Sgt. Mason explained.
He said they were unable to transfer any inmates to save space during the renovation.
Sgt. Mason has been a corrections officer for more than 20 years. He told WHNT News 19 it was rough working at the jail before Sheriff Phil Sims was elected.
“The first almost eight years I was here, it was a really good run, clean facility," said Sgt. Mason. "Then when Sheriff Holcomb left office and Sheriff Walls took over, the facility started deteriorating and he wouldn’t fix anything.”
Sgt. Mason said that during the Sheriff Walls era, contraband was getting in and the corrections officers had no control.
“Sheriff Walls had a hands-off policy," Mason said. "We could not do anything with the inmates and the inmates got to the point where they destroyed everything. In one shift, me and Sgt. Riddle caught a pack coming in that had 10 phones in it, drugs, tobacco, anything -- you name it, it was coming up."
Sgt. Mason told WHNT News 19 that when Sheriff Sims started in January 2019, they were able to re-take the jail and stopped all contraband from coming in.
Sgt. Mason said a new jail is in the works to help solve the overcrowding problem.
"We are severely overcrowded right now. We’re going to take male population in main jail and annex, move them to new facility," he said. "The females are severely overcrowded. They will be moved to the old main jail. The annex will be divided in two to house inmate workers and trustees."
Sgt. Mason said there are 57 female inmates housed at the Marshall County Jail.
He added that after getting the roof inspected, there are no leaks.