County still seeking city inmate deal

Published 9:22 pm Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Decatur County officials said Tuesday they are still working on a solution to house Bainbridge’s prisoners locally, despite the City Council’s move to send them up the highway to Pelham.

At the end of county commissioners’ Tuesday meeting, Board of Commissioners Chairman Earl Perry said he, County Administrator Tom Patton and Sheriff Wiley Griffin met for more than an hour Monday discussing how the county could re-approach Bainbridge officials on the issue of inmate housing.

The Bainbridge City Council voted 5-1, with Phil Long voting no, to house Public Safety prisoners at the Pelham City Jail, about 34 miles northeast of Bainbridge. Pelham offered to house each inmate for $30 per day, while the Decatur County Jail offered a renewal of a previous contract which called for $38 per inmate per day.

Email newsletter signup

At the time, City Manager Chris Hobby expressed disappointment with both Decatur County’s rate and also the manner in which it was proposed. According to Hobby, a copy of the former contract—which dated to 2004 and still bore the name of the late, former Mayor Bill K. Reynolds—was dropped off at City Hall without any meeting between the two local governments’ representatives.

Perry told The Post-Searchlight he believes the manner in which the county’s proposal has been portrayed is not accurate. The county made “an initial offer” and expected to negotiate further with city officials. Perry said Sheriff Wiley Griffin was out-of-town at a professional conference when the initial offer was made and the county didn’t expect Bainbridge “to act so quickly.”

Sheriff Griffin said the $38 per inmate is based on the original 1994 contract of $24 per inmate, adjusted for inflation. Patton said the county subsidizes operation of its jail with fees charged to local inmates, because the real cost to house them is closer to $50 per day.