Alabama Jail Expansion Aims to Alleviate Overcrowding

By Eric Althoff

GENEVA COUNTY, Ala. — Construction is continuing on a controversial Alabama jail project despite some setbacks.   Expansion to the jail means that some inmates will be temporarily housed in “pods” as the facility is facing up against near-maximum capacity, according to WDHN. 

The local sheriff believes that the construction will head off overcrowding of the jail, which has been exacerbated due to it having been built in the 1960s.

“The old jail had a fiberglass dome added about ten years ago to ease overcrowding.  We are now building a new facility that will replace the original jail which was completed in 1965,” Geneva County Sheriff Tony Helms said in an email sent to Correctional News.  “We are looking forward to having a facility that should last us another fifty years.”

Last month the county received a shipment of pods on top of two modules already on site that can house up to 16 additional inmates, according to WDHN

However, Sheriff Helms disputes the notion of these pods, saying only that they will “not [be used] for temp housing.”

WDHN reported that the new jail is being funded largely thanks to an increased sales tax of 1 percent approved last year.  The expansion is necessary considering the current jail has a capacity of only 49 inmates.  The newer jail will have a capacity of 155, but county officials said that 175 more can be added down the line if necessary.

“The construction is running well and should be complete by the end of the year with us taking possession by the first of next year,” Helms said in his email. 

However, WDHN earlier reported that the opening will happen sometime in February 2020.