Fulton County jail expanding

After getting approval today from the Fulton Fiscal Court, Fulton County’s jail will expand by 168 beds. This was after county leaders gained approval from those in Frankfort to expand the jail earlier this month.

The county will enter a 20-year loan commitment to complete the expansion, but it plans to pay back the loan with double payments for a seven-year loan commitment. County leaders say over time it will amount to $3.3 million, but the county plans to save on the cost of the expansion through its widely-used labor force.

Hickman City Manager Johnny McTurner says folks in his public works department can focus on their jobs in the city with help from the low-cost and necessary labor force the county jail provides. 

“When you put public works mowing and not fixing leaks all the time, you’ll have more leaks or you’ll have grass growing everywhere where you have leaks,” McTurner says.

Fulton County Judge Executive Jim Martin says the jail has been at full capacity for too long. He says the court system sometimes releases people because of overcrowding, 

“At points we have exceeded our capacity, and I think we get a lot of inmates because of the caliber of the facility we have here,” Martin says.

Martin says considering the amount of good the jail does for the county, it’s a necessary expansion, 

“The detention center is a big part of why we are financially solvent in county government,” Martin says.

Martin says inmate labor provides not only an extra set of hands to help those living in the county and the city, but also the county jail, “You have inmates who have an opportunity to work with their hands sometimes for he first time in their lives,” he says.

The expansion will have its own wing, with a bulk of the labor provided by the inmates in the county jail. The inmates will be supervised by specialists, and their work will be inspected to meet code standards.

Some jails in the surrounding area are much smaller, but Hickman County Jailer Chad Barber says the Fulton County Jail has more programs particular to Fulton County, such as substance abuse programs and the ability to house females.

Hickman city leaders say on some projects they’re able to save between $60,000 to $70,000 a year using inmate labor.

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