Jackson County Jail Faces Possible Legal Action For Overcrowding

More than 200 inmates are housed in the Jackson County Adult Detention Center, but the jail is only certified to hold 120.

"It's been a constant problem since day one when it opened," Sheriff Mike Byrd said.

The county, in many ways, is caught in the middle. State law limits the number of inmates at the detention center for health and safety reasons. But at the same time, the legal system requires the county to keep the inmates behind bars.

"It's virtually impossible, simply because the facility is not big enough."

The state's fire marshal agrees, according to the non-compliance notice. The fire marshal's office suggests "major renovations or a new facility." Sheriff Byrd hopes to see that happen.

"I feel like we are going to make the necessary improvements, but we definitely need a new jail."

Until then the sheriff's department and the Board of Supervisors is working to improve the jail. County officials have 60 days to respond to the notice. In that response, they hope to show signs of improvement and details of future plans. County attorneys say there is a possibility an agreement can be reached with the state before the case goes before a judge.

Story By Ken Flanagan

On-line Producer Glenn Cummins