CCSO holds dedication ceremony for detention center expansion - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Dedication ceremony marks detention center expansion completion

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Sheriff Al St Lawrence during the dedication ceremony. Sheriff Al St Lawrence during the dedication ceremony.
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

A dedication ceremony was held Tuesday morning to signal the completion of the Chatham County Detention Center expansion project. 

In 2004, Sheriff St Lawrence issued a needs assessment to the county. In 2006, voters approved a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to fund a jail expansion, and in December 2010, county commissioners awarded a $71 million construction contract. 

The main purpose of the expansion was to take care of some serious overcrowding issues. At one point they were holding close to 2,000 inmates, even though the capacity was about 1,200, and they wanted to take care of it before the Federal Courts started stepping in.

The expansion project added 400,000-square feet and brought the total number of inmate beds to 2,300, nearly double what it use to hold.

Major renovations were also done to the administration building, medical, and warehouse facilities, as well as new security and fire alarm systems. 

Commission Chairman Al Scott said they were able to budget for the increased need in staff members. They hired about 68 more employees for the expansion.

"We were able to work out an agreement last budget for the staffing level," he said. "And so far the staffing level has been adequate and I hope it will be adequate because we don't want to face those hurdles again and having to ask the tax payers to support more staff."

Nakisha Williams, who works at First Choice Staffing just down the street from the jail, said all of the new security features makes her feel safer.

"It does, especially with us being right around the corner," she said. "And we sometimes work late here trying to get the payroll out and dealing with hospitality and pay roll and everything. It makes us feel a whole lot safer."

A full description of the project details was included during the ceremony.

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