In county jail cell doors to get improved locks

Published 1:12 am Monday, April 25, 2005

By By Mary-Allison Lancaster Managing editor
Seventeen members of the Grand Jury met for the April 11 Civil Jury term. As a requirement to the court process, jury members are taken through the jail and given a brief tour by Sheriff Grover Smith.
One of the first things Sheriff Smith points out are the inadequate locks on the cell doors.
Four years ago, $130,000 was spent on refurbishing the locks and control panels. Minimum security locks were put in place, and according to the sheriff, they were "not really designed to withstand abuse."
As a result, officials have been looking into redesigning the jail and incorporating stronger locks. PH&J Inc., based out of Montgomery, will be the architectural firm used to redo the jail. The same company designed the jail in Monroe County. Over the next few months, architect Griffin Harris should have the drawings depicting the new design.
What he means is, $25,000 a month has been put into an account the County Commission has been holding in order to fix the jail. Once enough money has been accumulated, the jail will be completely refurbished on the inside.
According to Smith, the doors will change to a wire mesh so staff will be able to see through the door. Currently, the doors are solid metal. The money will also be used to upgrade the control panels from a mechanical switch button to a touch screen.
The sheriff wanted to reiterate that the locks are going to be replaced on the cell doors, not the unit doors.
For those who have never taken a tour of the jail, Smith said that you go through four doors in total; two doors must be passed through before entering into a unit. The doors are medium to maximum security and there have never been any problems with the locks on those doors, Smith said.
The new locks would allow staff to lock the inmates down and keep them in their cell for a period of time.
According to Smith, those locks have continually been torn up and they're not meant to be. With high hopes, the locks will not have to be replaced every four years, as done in the past.