Bainbridge inmates returning to Decatur County Jail

Decatur County GA Jail

Decatur County GA JailFive years after the City of Bainbridge decided not to renew its contract with the Decatur County Jail, negotiations are underway to return the city’s inmates to Bainbridge.

The City of Bainbridge signed a contract with the Pelham City Jail in July 2010 to house city inmates there.

Currently, Bainbridge Public Safety sends people who are arrested for misdemeanor offenses and can’t get a bail bond 35 miles up the highway to Pelham. There are two categories of arrestees who don’t go to Pelham and aretaken to the Decatur County Jail: people who are arrested on misdemeanor offenses that can’t be handled in Municipal Court, such as those charged with domestic violence; and persons charged with felony crimes that are handled in State and Superior Courts.

With the City of Bainbridge and Decatur County recently agreeing upon a Service Delivery Strategy, city officials proposed returning to the Decatur County Jail in early April. The City of Bainbridge currently has an average of about 15 people housed on a daily basis at the Pelham City Jail, according to City Manager Chris Hobby.

There are still some logistics to be worked on before the Decatur County Jail can accommodate the city’s inmates, related to both physical space to house them and necessary personnel to guard them, according to Decatur County Undersheriff Wendell Cofer.

However, it’s anticipated that by later summer or early fall, the City of Bainbridge will transfer inmates from Pelham to the Decatur County Jail, and start bringing new arrestees there as well. The City of Bainbridge will pay $33 per inmate, per day to the Decatur County Jail, under the terms of the Service Delivery Agreement. A 10 percent surcharge will be added on the bill for each inmate, to help pay for jail maintenance.

The City of Pelham was charging Bainbridge $30 per inmate, per day, with no 10 percent add-on. However, there were other factors for city officials to consider, including the cost of gas, the inconvenience of transporting inmates 35 miles away and more recently, whether returning to the Decatur County Jail would be a gesture of friendly cooperation between Bainbridge and Decatur County.

To date, there have been no formal discussion of the proposed new jail contract between City of Bainbridge officials and Decatur County commissioners, officials from both governments said. Decatur County commissioners have formed a committee to implement parts of the Service Delivery Agreement.

The Service Delivery Agreement outlines some of the details of said contract; for example, stating that the City of Bainbridge will pay when city inmates require medical treatment outside of the jail. But there are other details that need to be discussed by city and county officials, such as how security will be provided when inmates have to go to medical appointments and court appearances.

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