Chatham County Jail expanding - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Chatham County Jail expanding

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Chief Deputy Roy Harris Chief Deputy Roy Harris

After months of construction, and weeks of debate over staffing costs, a new wing of the renovated and expanded Chatham County Jail is opening Tuesday.

The County Commission on June 28 approved a $48 million budget for the sheriff's office this fiscal year – with $6 million in additional cost to staff the expanded jail.

The sheriff and County Commissioners went back and forth for weeks before settling on that number.

That $6 million will hire enough staff to bring the jail's capacity to 1,650 inmates.

The sheriff was looking for an additional $10.5 million this year, enough to house 1,790 inmates.

Is it enough? Over the busy fourth of July weekend, the jail's inmate count got over 1,600 inmates, just shy of that compromise capacity.

"By law, we have to accept prisoners when police departments and other agencies bring them to us," Chief Deputy Roy Harris said. "We don't really have a choice so we have to provide staff to safely manage those inmates in our care, and when I say safely, I'm talking about not only the inmate's safety from inmate to inmate assaults, but also our employee's safety from an inmate assaulting an employee, which as you know we have from time to time."

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