The members of the Greene County Commission met with county office holders & staff along with the Greene County Sheriff and staff regarding construction of the future jail and funding of the project.
The meeting comes after earlier news that the jail will likely have to be moved off the Greene County government campus because of the proposed concrete construction of the building.
“We had a jail that was full on the day that it opened 23 years ago,” Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon said in the meeting. “I don’t want a [new] jail that is full on the day we open it. That’s not a wise expenditure of County funds and it doesn’t really serve our needs.”
Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott agreed that the County needs to move forward and keep in mind the increasing jail population.
“The jail capacity has to be addressed as soon as possible,” Arnott said. “Our space issues…for 20 years we’ve been out of space.”
Several issues were discussed to try and lower the current jail population but Sheriff Arnott noted temporary fixes rarely last more than a year.
“There’s not many things based on past history that’s going to take a huge number out of our overall number,” Arnott said. “Book and release, cite and release, pre-trial…you’ll see in our charts the numbers will drop but then go up the next year. They’re all just temporary fixes.”
Arnott also noted there are many inmates in the Greene County jail that are looking to plead to their cases but can’t because of backups in the public defender’s office.
“There are people today who are ready to plead and get out of our jail but they can’t get a public defender,” Arnott said. “They would take a plea deal today but they can’t get in front of a judge with representation.”
The meeting ended with Dixon asking the county officeholders to continue submitting ideas for how to get the jail built at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers while still allowing it to be built with future jail population growth in mind.