BRISTOL, Fla. There's a debate bubbling to the surface, over Liberty County's jail. The Sheriff wants to turn control of the facility over to county commissioners. But, commissioners are not hot on the idea.
Liberty County officials are battling over several issues at the county jail in Bristol. Some involve procedures, like the inmate work release program.
Liberty Co. Commissioner Davis Stoutamire, "After a meeting we had a few weeks ago they wouldn't let the inmates out for a few days."
Brian Langston, Liberty Co. Undersheirff told us this complaint revolved over what’s happened in the past. "There were some incidents that happened with some of our work release folks. Some people I didn't want out of jail once I heard about their histories. We weren't monitoring their work releases like we should be."
Another issue involves personnel. "I made that change and pretty immediately after I made that change the commission has an interest in taking the jail back over."
"Personnel has something to do with it but not really. A lot of those employees are out of county and our taxpayers have to foot the bill and we need that tax base to stay in the county."
But possibly the biggest issue is the cost of operating the jail. "The commission has never run a jail. They have no idea what it takes to run a jail. It's not an easy task. There's a lot of repercussions, insurance issues. The commission will have to get insurance to cover the jail. Right now it's covered under the Florida Sheriff's Association"
"I know it takes a lot of money to run the Sheriff's department. It takes a lot of money to run the jail and we don't have a lot of money to deal with.
The 2-sides have not agreed yet on who will be responsible for operating the Liberty County Jail in the future.