Gulf County Sheriff Giving Jail to County Commissioners

The future of the Gulf County Jail is in serious limbo. Sheriff Dalton Upchurch told county commissioners he will only operate the jail one more month. After that, the jail in Port St. Joe will be the commission's problem.

The 40-year-old Gulf County Jail is in dire need of repair, and has been for years. Sheriff Upchurch says he and previous sheriffs have been calling attention to the jail's problems with no results, and he says he’s had enough.

“I don't feel the obligation to continue to run a jail in the condition this one’s in."

The jail is showing its age. Inmates complain of a sagging roof, leaking toilets, and exposed wires and pipes.

Upchurch presented a formal letter to commissioners, turning over the jail, effective April 1 of this year. He says commissioners didn't' have a chance of talking him out of it.

"No chance, no chance at all."

Although it's not what commissioners wanted, Chairman Carmen McLemore says this may be what's necessary to make some changes.

"If you're in charge of something or you own something, then you don't mind spending the money for it."

The jail will have to be rebuilt eventually, but commissioners agree repairs will buy them at least three years’ time. The first task the county will tackle is fixing the jail roof. They'll have to decide whether to repair it for $15,000 or replace it for $50,000.