The Ashley County Quorum Court gave its approval Tuesday to allow Sheriff Tommy Sturgeon to make what he characterized as necessary repairs to the county jail.
Speaking to the quorum, Sturgeon said the jail had several plumbing and sprinkler system repairs that were needed in recent weeks, and other areas of the facility also needed to be fixed.
“There are things we don’t have a choice, that we have to fix, cameras being one,” Sturgeon said. “I had a judge tell me that if something didn’t happen on camera, it didn’t happen — cameras are very important.
“I don’t want to fight a battle in court where I say, ‘I have a camera, but it didn’t work.”
As part of its approval for the jail, the quorum also gave a nod for Sturgeon to have prisoners and jail staff tested for tuberculosis.
Under the state health department’s standards, any facility that houses more than 50 inmates at a time for 14 or more days has to test everybody in the facility for tuberculosis. The sheriff said the facility is currently in line with correctional standards, but is not in line with the health department because of the tuberculosis testing issue.
After searching for options, Sturgeon found one industrial medicine clinic that will do the testing for $40 a person, he said.
The biggest problem with putting off testing prisoners until the absolute latest is that they often leave the jail before the 14 day limit, while others may stay incarcerated for months.
“We can hold them and say we are not going to test them until day 14, and you could test them on the morning of the fourteenth day and then have them make bail and get out,” Sturgeon said.