City pushing to finalize jail deal with county

Published 7:32 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2015

City of Bainbridge and Decatur County officials are finalizing negotiations to move Bainbridge’s inmates to Decatur County after it was announced that the City of Pelham will close its jail at the end of the month.

Thursday evening, the Pelham City Council voted unanimously to close the Mize Street Detention Center, where Bainbridge and several other municipalities send their inmates. The jail will close no later than May 31.

Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby said that several factors went into the decision, including a potential loss of Pelham customers.

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“They told us there were three reasons they decided to close,” Hobby said. “They had lost a contract they had to house federal prisoners. Second, they knew through various media sources that we had negotiated jail costs [with Decatur County] as part of the Service Delivery Strategy Agreement. They felt us moving our inmates was inevitable. Third they have a pending probation lawsuit.”

In July of 2010, the Bainbridge City Council began transporting its inmates to the Pelham jail to cut back on costs.

As part of the recent Service Delivery Strategy Agreement, approved by both the Bainbridge City Council and the Decatur County Board of Commissioners, Bainbridge will pay the county $33 per inmate, per day plus 10 percent of the fine assessed each inmate.

In 2010, the county increased its rate to $38 per inmate, per day plus the 10 percent. Pelham currently charges $30 per inmate, per day, which does not include transportation costs.

“We have been averaging around 16 per day, this year. This year has been a high year,” Hobby said. “Historically, we average around 12 a day.”

Hobby said that the only thing left is logistics because the payment details were included in the SDS Agreement. He said that his plan is to have something for the City Council to approve at its May 19 meeting.

“We have to do something prior to the 31 of May,” Hobby said. “Pelham desires us to do something sooner rather than later, so that’s my plan.”