MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. – Currently there are several safety and security protocols for inmates as well as visitors at the Morgan County Jail.
But Sheriff Ron Puckett said there are ways to better ensure that no one tries to beat the system, and it starts with better jail technology.
WHNT News 19 spoke with sheriff’s office personnel and they say it’s going to cost a pretty penny — about $180,000. That’s money that wasn’t included in the Morgan County fiscal budget for 2020.
But the sheriff’s office said everything is covered.
“As far as budgeting, this is through the county commission. They’re tasked with providing for the function of the jail,” explained Mike Swafford, spokesperson for the sheriff’s office. “And this is something where the talk has gone on for some time. We’ve looked at different models.”
The commission voted Tuesday to pay for a full body X-ray machine, very similar to what you see in airports. The jail will also get a baggage conveyor screener as well as a metal detector.
“Our primary goal is to have everyone who enters the jail go through this,” Swafford added. “So that’s inmates, trustees coming back from work detail as well as employees.”
One jailer who works in intake said some aspects of the job aren’t ideal, and the new equipment will help tremendously.
“I don’t think anyone who signs up for this job wants to strip search people daily, frequently, constantly in the jail,” explained Lt. Danny Kelso of the sheriff’s department.
And while the price tag is pretty hefty, it does include staff training and warranties for the devices.
The sheriff’s office said the equipment could have a trickle down effect. If the machines keep drugs and weapons out of the jail, that could cut costs elsewhere.