Rural Jails

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Gulf County's jail is 50 years old. Plans for a building a new facility are just getting off the ground.

County commissioners are trying to find out how much a new jail will cost, and how to pay for it. The sheriff who runs the jail says the continuous maintenance is not only expensive, but it's only a temporary fix.

"The roof leaks, there's no ventilation, no heating, no cooling. We have to build a safe facility. We have to build a facility that we can tell you that they're secure in, not just that they're treated alright, but we can tell you they can't get out."

While Gulf County's jails are dealing with problems such as ventilation, air conditioning and electricity, the jail in Calhoun County has a problem of a different nature, mainly overcrowding.

The county is actually sending inmates to jails in surrounding counties, which costs up to $40 a day, for each inmate.

"Perhaps as much as $200,000 a year increase in budget just to house those inmates; we're outsourcing them and housing them probably on an annual basis for about $80,000, so it is the most cost effective at this stage.”

It’s cost effective for now, but what about the future?

“Now as we continue to grow and have more inmates and require more facility, you reach a breaking point where it's more cost effective to house them yourself and hire those staff members, but we're not at that breaking point."

Calhoun County is also planning to build a new jail, but that's at least five years away. Right now Calhoun County is sending as many as 20 prisoners to Holmes, Liberty and Washington Counties.