Greenville residents concerned about jail

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 7, 2001

Several Greenville residents attended the workshop of the Butler County Commission Thursday to voice their concern over the future home of the Butler County Jail. All of the concerned residents live in the vicinity of the new facility and were worried about the safety of themselves and their children.

One issue raised was whether properties other than the current location were considered.

&uot;One thing we had to look at was the property we have available,&uot; said Commissioner Jesse McWilliams. &uot;I don’t blame you for feeling like you do. It’s a hard decision for a commission to have to make. But due to the location of the property and its proximity to the court, it’s convenient.

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&uot;We could take it 10 miles out,&uot; said McWilliams, &uot;but there are hazards with the deputy having to transport and the possibility of having accidents.&uot;

One resident asked, &uot;If you had not bought this property, then where would you have put the new jail?&uot;

&uot;We honestly don’t know,&uot; said McWilliams.

Commissioner Daniel Robinson informed the residents that other properties had been considered, but the architect was concerned about low-lying areas and said the best property was the present one.

&uot;We got some estimates from the architect on how much it would cost to get it feasible. After all, we are spending tax payers’ dollars and we don’t want to spend a million dollars to build a $2-3 million dollar jail. From everyone’s standpoint, this was the best place to put it.&uot;

Another issue raised by residents of the area was safety. One resident stated that her son is very worried about the jail being in his neighborhood and is quite scared.

&uot;I feel like the one we have now, it’s safe, but you will be just as safe with the newer one,&uot; said Robinson.

&uot;If not safer,&uot; said Chairman Gary Hanks. &uot;The one in Hayneville is similar to the one we are going to build over here. Unless you know what the building is, you wouldn’t know it’s a jail.

&uot;People are going to be concerned like you folks are, but living next to the jail is the safest place you could be; that’s what the statistics say,&uot; continued Hanks. &uot;If an inmate breaks out, he will try and get as far away as possible.&uot;

Hanks also assured the residents that their childen would be safe, and because the jail will have inside facilities such as a recreation room, inmates will not be outside as they are presently.

&uot;When an inmate gets out of the car, he’s already locked up,&uot; said Commissioner William Phillips.

&uot;We’ve had five jail breaks in the last seven years and no one was caught within two blocks because when they break, they run. We are using the same architect that designed the Lowndes County jail and I don’t know of any jail breaks from the jails that he has built,&uot; said Chief Deputy Kenny Harden of the Butler County Sheriff Department.

&uot;I’ll be glad to go out and talk to anyone in the neighborhood who has concerns,&uot; said McWilliams.

Deputy Charlie Brown suggested that the concerned residents see the Lowndes County jail to help put their fears to rest. Along with Commissioners McWilliams and Robinson, Brown has scheduled a trip on Monday afternoon to Lowndes County to help residents see a facility similar to the one to be built in Butler County.