MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – A $10 million overhaul to the Marshall County jail is completed but the sheriff says the jail is faced with a whole new set of issues.
Sheriff Phil Sims told News 19 that overcrowding in both the men’s and women’s dorms has become nearly uncontrollable and is pleading with the county commission for the extra money for a bigger jail.
“It’s dangerous for inmate-on-inmate crime and inmate on officer,” said Sims.
Sims says the jail is equipped with 196 beds for the inmates, but the main issue is that there are over 300 people housed in the jail. Sims says with the population in the county growing like he’s never seen before he expects the issue to get much worse.
“If you’re in a room that’s too crowded, you get sick and you’re ready to go,” Sims explained. “But if you’re in jail you can’t leave.”
The jail was on the verge of being shut down for good, but the approval of the renovation saved it from demolition. With the jail’s population is out of control Sims says he refuses to release inmates in his county that deserve to be in jail just to relieve overcrowding.
“I don’t like doing that. Some of those people do not need to be out roaming the streets of Marshall County. We’ve got to fix it yet it’s going to take time to fix it. But until we do, we are going to keep doing what we’ve got to do,” said Sims.
Sims says a property located behind the current jail was purchased from the City of Guntersville by the commission back in 2013 for the sole purpose of expanding or building a new jail. He’s pleading with the Marshall County Commission chairman James Hutcheson for additional funding to alleviate the problem. The commission says right now the money is just not there.
“Sheriff Sims is doing a great job here in Marshall County,” said Hutcheson. “But my job is to take care of the finances in the county, and we’ll make sure we stay in good financial condition.”
Sims says there are inmates sleeping in makeshift beds all throughout the facility. A new jail will cost the county an estimated $20 million.
There is, however, currently an agreement between the sheriff and the commission to have designs drawn for a jail.