JeffCo jail overcrowding settlement costs taxpayers $135,000 - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

JeffCo jail overcrowding settlement costs taxpayers $135,000

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Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video
JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) -

Thursday, Jefferson County Commissioners will vote to end an ongoing lawsuit over jail overcrowding.

"This was not a winnable lawsuit," Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale said. Hale said the settlement is in the best interest of law enforcement and taxpayers.

"I think we are okay for right now. We are simply a crowded facility, but we are not an overcrowded facility," Hale said.

The Jefferson County jail in downtown Birmingham was overcrowded with inmates. Hale was forced to shut down the Bessemer jail in 2009 after county commissioners cut his budget by $10 million.

In 2011, Hale and the commissioners were sued as a result of jail overcrowding creating a threat to inmates.

"The jail settlement is a very important issue. We are thankful and glad to get that behind us. At the amount of money and amount of exposure it could have created, we are very thankful," Jefferson County Commissioner Jimmie Stephens said.

The problem eased when Hale finally reopened the Bessemer jail in December.

Under conditions of the settlement, Hale and the county will split the $135,000 cost of paying the inmates' attorneys' fees. Stephens said a monitor will be in place to insure there are no more problems for two years.

Hale said the Bessemer jail can also be expanded up to another 240 beds if excess beds are needed in the future.

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