Pelham City Jail to close doors; Bainbridge inmates headed back to Decatur County

The Mize Street Detention Center in Pelham, Ga. (Google Maps Image)

The Pelham City Council voted unanimously to close the Mize Street Detention Center.

The jail, officially known as the Mize Street Detention Center, was used primarily to house inmates from various municipalities in Georgia.

In recent years, the Pelham jail held as many as 200 out-of town inmates for a charge of $35 per day. That brought in more than $1 million in total revenue annually, with a good portion of that going toward the City of Pelham budget. The Pelham jail also employed 20 people.

Some of its customers included cities of Roswell, Sandy Springs, Fairburn, Johns Creek, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, and from South Georgia, the City of Bainbridge and Lanier County.

Pelham has given notification to other municipalities that the detention center will close no later than May 31, 2015.

The City of Bainbridge began sending inmates charged with misdemeanor offenses to the Pelham jail in 2010, citing cost savings. The City of Bainbridge had already been making plans to move its inmates back to the Decatur County Jail in Bainbridge later this summer, as part of a Service Delivery Agreement between the City of Bainbridge and Decatur County.

An average of about 15 inmates from the City of Bainbridge are housed at the Pelham City Jail on a given day. City Manager Chris Hobby said he has talked with Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin, who oversees the jail, about moving the city’s inmates back to Bainbridge before the May 31 deadline.

The Pelham City Jail has been under scrutiny recently for several reasons.

An Alpharetta, Ga., woman who had been sent to the Pelham City Jail by the City of Roswell recently filed a lawsuit claiming she was sexually assaulted by a Pelham jail guard on April 1, 2015. Both the City of Roswell and the Pelham Police Department are named as defendants.

The City of Pelham, along with the city of Bainbridge, were named as co-defendants in a federal lawsuit filed in April against Red Hills Community Probation of Cairo, which has contracts for providing probation supervision with several Southwest Georgia cities. The lawsuit, filed by the Southern Center for Human Rights, alleges several people who were sentenced to serve probation were jailed or detained by Red Hills after they were unable to afford probation fines and fees.

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