Limestone paying Huntsville $12,000 to house inmates

By Holly Hollman
DAILY Staff Writer

ATHENS -- Overflow numbers of inmates are costing Limestone County more than $12,000 to house them in Huntsville.

Limestone County Commission Chairman Stanley Menefee said Monday that the county pays Huntsville Police Department $61.10 a day per inmate to house Limestone County Jail prisoners. A federal court mandate says Limestone's jail cannot exceed 142 inmates.

Chief Deputy Jim Landers said probation violators and inmates who can't make bond are crowding the jail. He said the county could send as many as 10 a day to Huntsville. The sheriff's department usually sends less than 10, he said.

The county will pay Huntsville $12,220 for housing inmates in June and July.

"All the jails are crowded," said Menefee. "We called the whole North Alabama area looking for space, so we're thankful Huntsville lets us use their jail."

A federal judge mandated that Limestone limit its prison population to no more than 142 inmates after an inmate sued, saying the overcrowded  conditions caused a safety hazard.

The judge also mandated that the county build a new jail.

The county is building the $9 million jail on Elm and Wheeler streets, north of downtown Athens.

Menefee said the new jail would allow Limestone to house other jails' prisoners for a fee. The Athens City Council is contemplating closing the Athens City Jail and housing its misdemeanor cases at the new county jail. The county already houses the city's felony inmates.