In 1982, the old County Work Camp building was brought back to life and converted into the current Brooks County Jail, a dormitory-style facility capable of holding 45 male inmates. Conditions became increasingly poor and it lacked the space to accommodate females and high-security inmates. A new facility was needed and was built.

In celebration of the completion and opening of the new Brooks County Jail, a ribbon-cutting and open house was held Sunday.

Special speakers at the ceremony included Wayne Carroll, Brooks County Board of Commissioners chairman; Andrew Thompson, Jail Construction Committee chairman; and Sheriff Richard Chafin.

After the ribbon-cutting, guests were invited inside for self-guided tours and refreshments.

Just a little more than a year has passed since the Brooks County Board of Commissioners broke ground on the new jail Jan. 29, 2004, and construction is now finished. Moving in will begin this week and Chafin expects the new jail to be fully operational by the end of February.

Understanding the need to meet current jail standards, address liability and security issues and to meet further growth of the inmate population, the Brooks County Board of Commissioners formed the Brooks County Jail Construction Committee in 1999.

Comprised of local citizens, Board members and Chafin, members were assigned the task of researching ideal locations, costs, and funding sources and making suggestions to the Board.

The committee also included S.G. Folsom, R. Andrew Thompson, Glenn A. Bissett, C. Ben Devane, Andrew Jackson, Dr. Frank H. McElroy Jr., Fuller G. Pedrick Jr., Thurmond L. Waters and Owen Wrice.

Peter Brown Construction, a company well-known in Florida for creating quality, high-efficiency jails, was chosen to build the new facility. Jody Buchan, job superintendent, led the team as the company's ninth county jail in Georgia was built for Brooks County at 1003 Holloway Drive.

The 25,000-square-foot facility can house as many as 112 inmates of any gender or security risk, as opposed to the 45 males the current facility can house. The new conditions will eliminate the need to transport and house additional male inmates and any female or high-security risk inmates in one of the neighboring county jails of Colquitt, Cook, Lowndes and Thomas counties, and will, in doing so, eliminate the extra cost.

Its layout will even create divisions by level of security for trustees, females, males and high security risk inmates, something the old jail did not offer.

Two systems control the operations at the jail: one is in the secured area that houses the inmates and the other is in a non-secured area at the front of the jail. If a situation arises where inmates overtake the secured area's system, the front system has the power to completely override the other, locking down the facility and giving the front system operators an opportunity to prevent security breaches.

Top-quality security systems involving monitoring cameras and two-way mirrored glass provide a much safer environment for inmates and workers.

All systems operate with a back-up generator set to function within five seconds of power failure, preventing loss of information.

Another addition is Live Scan, a fingerprinting system that automatically compares the inmate's fingerprints against a national database. This system will increase efficiency during the booking process since the old system takes as long as two weeks.

The state-of-the-art facility cost an estimated $3.6 million and was funded solely by Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) revenues.

In addition to housing inmates, the facility will also be home to Brooks County's 911 center. Mike Smith, Emergency Management director, is pleased about the combination and believes his office can work with the sheriff's department to ease general operations.

The new Brooks County Jail meets all national jail standards and Captain Calvin Troy promises to lead the staff in keeping it that way. "I'm very proud of this facility. My concerns will be to keep the facility running strong with three C's: Care, custody, and control," he said before adding, "well, and cleanliness."

A new service will be offered to inmates by Courtland Church of Christ in an effort to prevent inmates from returning. Alvin Daniels Jr. and Oglesby L. Jackson Sr. are nationally certified to teach inmates to read, helping them to hold jobs and function as citizens. They also hope to start a GED program soon.

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