BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WALA) - The Baldwin County jail is running high on inmates but low on room to house them.
Baldwin County Sheriff Huey "Hoss" Mack said the jail was built to accommodate around 650 people but it's currently holding around 670 inmates. He said that number is increasing.
"We have seen a genuine trend in the increase of our jail population in the last few years. The number of beds we have hasn't increased in the last 10 years. We're to the point now where we're seriously having to consider a possible jail expansion," said Mack.
Sheriff Mack said the additional inmates sleep on mattresses on the cell floors.
The jail population could get worse once mandatory sentencing guidelines go into effect in October, which would have low status offenders serve their time in jail rather than prison.
Mack said he proposed the county begin construction of a two to $5 million addition, making it possible to house around 200 more inmates.
"Nobody wants to build a jail. Nobody wants to see their money go towards that but it's part of our growth. We have a lot of good in Baldwin County, but with that good we have a small element of bad," Mack said.
Sheriff Mack said this isn't a new issue. In fact, they've been implementing numerous measures for years to keep it from booming. Those measures include early parole for non-violent offenders, ankle monitors and house arrest as well as work release programs.
"We're arresting more people. We don't have the same jail facility that we had 50 years ago and we won't in 50 years. So we're just in that growth mode and we have to adjust responsibly," said Mack.
Sheriff Mack said the addition will force them to add staff and he's hoping construction will begin by 2015.
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