Current inmates being housed in gwinnett jail

However, more deputies are needed now to manage an average daily inmate population that has swelled from 2, to 2, over the past four years, the sheriff's office said. At the same time, there has been an increased demand for deputies to provide security at the courthouse and in jail courtrooms, which are operating at full capacity, said the sheriff's spokeswoman, Stacey Bourbonnais.

Conway said he will renew his request for 30 deputy positions and an additional five supervisory positions in the budget, which will be voted on in January.

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County government spokesman Joe Sorenson declined Tuesday to comment about how the sheriff is managing his resources. Sorenson said no decisions have been made yet about the budget, but a declining tax digest is likely to mean some county departments will have to tighten their belt. In the meantime, the triple-bunked inmates sleep on makeshift beds on the floor in cells designed for two.

The arrangement is not only less comfortable for inmates, it is also less safe. To free up space, the sheriff last month began housing out about half of the state-sentenced inmates who are awaiting transfer to the state prison system. That's the same rate at which the state reimburses Gwinnett for keeping state prisoners, Conway said.

The sheriff has another option that would free up employees to staff the unused housing units.

Operation Second Chance : Jail Dogs

But it's an option Conway said he doesn't want to consider: He could reassign some of the 18 deputies who are trained to identify illegal immigrants in the jail for possible deportation. The controversial program, known as g , is a local-federal partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department is one of 66 law enforcement agencies nationwide and five in Georgia that participate. Pro-immigrant groups who oppose g have called for the program to be axed.

They say it erodes trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement. Sabrina Smith, who chairs a nonpartisan group called Gwinnett Citizens for Responsible Government, backs the sheriff's decision to devote 18 deputies to screening for illegal immigrants.

Jeff Shoemaker

However, she is concerned the county could face lawsuits due to inmate overcrowding. Conway believes weeding out illegal immigrants will get rid of some repeat offenders, eventually reducing the overall jail population and forestalling a need for a second jail expansion.

The town has a officer police department, a Hardee's and a Huddle House. It also has a bed jail that for years has opened its cells to prisoners from other counties, charging a fee for each inmate.

On any given day, Gwinnett prisoners occupy nearly all of Pelham's beds. Since , Gwinnett County has "housed out" surplus inmates to Pelham, miles from Lawrenceville.

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The jail's population routinely exceeds its capacity, forcing inmates to sleep on mattresses on the floor. The first inmates housed out usually have been convicted and are awaiting state cell space, meaning they likely don't have to make any return trips to Gwinnett County courts. Gwinnett has inmates all over the state, but few in nearby facilities. Metro jails either cost more than Gwinnett wants to spend or have crowding problems of their own.

Last month, 52 of the state's county jails had populations exceeding percent occupancy, the state Department of Community Affairs reported. Ten of Georgia's counties do not have jails. The report is based on information collected from each county's sheriff on a single day. Last month, that day was Aug. Georgia jails are crowded because the state's prisons are packed. The 48,inmate state prison system is at capacity, so county jails often have no place to send convicted prisoners. Terry Norris, executive vice president of the Georgia Sheriffs' Association said the problem is "reaching an epidemic, or crisis, status.

Gwinnett will continue shipping them out until it finishes a 1,bed addition, boosting the jail capacity to nearly 2, In the last fiscal year, almost half that went to Pelham. In July, he was sentenced to prison for DUI, which violated the terms of his parole. Georgia had no ready cell space available in the state system, so he wound up at Pelham.

Standing 6-feet-3 in a shabby green jumpsuit issued by the Gwinnett jail, Henderson said he called his mother when he arrived in Pelham and gave her the news: He was somewhere in South Georgia, a four-hour drive from Gwinnett. Visiting hours were Saturdays and Sundays only, 1 to 2 p. She sped most of the way, not knowing exactly where she was going or how long it would take to get there.

When she pulled to a stop in front of the Pelham Jail, Debbie Henderson checked her watch: p. Quiet town The last two decades have not been the best in Pelham.

ARTICLE: Gwinnett County ships inmates south [Archive] - Prison Talk

Hercules Bumpers, one of the town's biggest employers, was sold to a California conglomerate and closed around , putting about people out of work. In , Darwood Manufacturing Co. Fifteen people staff the lockup at all times. Pelham, McCormick says, is a quiet place, 2 square miles of somnolence. The last bank robbery took place in Its only police officer slain in the line of duty was killed in A two-vehicle collision recently made the front page of the weekly Pelham Journal. For years, a wooden structure sufficed as a jail until a guy named Turkey Butler broke out in the s.

Gwinnett inmates crowded even as jail beds go unused

According to local legend, he said, "That place could hold chickens, but not a Turkey. It served for nearly 50 years, but finally became too small. The jail has been expanded several times since the mids, including the latest addition in The only evidence that the old jail existed is a faded brick outline on the current jail's rear exterior wall.

Much of the demand for Pelham's jail space, McCormick said, can be traced to the mids when crack cocaine first appeared in South Georgia. Rural sheriffs found their jails filled with drug offenders and began looking for temporary space to house inmates. Nearby Thomas County first asked Pelham for help. Dougherty County, another neighbor, was next, followed by Pelham's own Mitchell County. Then, in a geographic leap, Clayton County in secured a contract with Pelham to house excess inmates while it built a new jail. A little town far removed from metro Atlanta suddenly was in the sights of big-city sheriffs looking for additional cell space. In , Gwinnett County contacted Pelham, and has been doing business with the town since. For that daily sum, the jail supplies inmates with a simple breakfast, sandwiches at lunch and a meat-and-three dinner, all from one of two eateries.

Jail and Inmate Information

It also provides a single bed with a mattress no wider than a kitchen counter, if slightly softer.