APPLING COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Appling County Sheriff Mark Melton says you don’t build onto jails every couple of years, but every couple of decades. He says when you do, you don’t just build for the present but also what you’ll need in the future.
He walked WTOC through the roughly 20,000 square feet of new space that's designed to house another 85 prisoners. It's sectioned for different levels of security and includes accommodations for larger inmates and those in wheelchairs.
Sheriff Melton said new technology gives them better security and saves manpower.
A video terminal gives inmate access to visitors - either from the lobby or those paying to dial in from anywhere.
“When they come, they do it here. So, we never have any security breach. They don't go outside the secure area. We don't put them in contact with other people,” Sheriff Melton said.
The expansion almost doubles their capacity, up from 105 beds. The sheriff says they built for growth but can use the space in the meantime to be the landlord for other agencies.
“We are planning to lease space to the Feds or other surrounding counties that have a need or desire to bring inmates in,” Sheriff Melton said.
He says that lease revenue doesn't make the department any money, but it helps offset some of the cost of building space to keep his community safe.
He says he'll start putting more and more inmates in the new building, then look at retrofitting and remodeling the old one.