South Baldwin looking at possibly creating a new jail

It’s no secret that Baldwin County is growing rapidly, especially in the south part of the county. So the cities there said it just makes sense to at least look at the possibility of having a jail in their area.

“Instead of running three separate city jails, coming together in partnership, with the Sheriff’s Office and just possibly in the future building one single jail that serviced all three cities and the Sheriff’s Office,” David Wilson, Foley police chief, said.

Wilson said he and his fellow chiefs in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores have discussed the idea with Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack. Now it’s time to consider bringing the idea up for a vote by their city councils.

“I believe Gulf Shores is in the process of analyzing some needs for a new jail themselves,” Mike Thompson, Foley’s city administrator, said. “So we thought it would make sense to just look at a shared facility and see whether or not it was feasible.”

“Within the first two weeks of March, all four entities will have officially brought it forward to move the feasibility study to the next level,” Wilson said.

That next level is financing the $38,900 study to be done by Management Partners, the Ohio and California-based consulting firm. The bill will be split among the four.

“I think it’s something that’s trending in Baldwin County amongst all the law enforcement agencies here,” Major Anthony Lowery, with the Sheriff’s Office, said. “We’ve seen that working together and having a jail like that could be beneficial to the people of the county and beneficial to our agencies.”

Lowery and other said such a jail would cut down on a number of costs like vehicle maintenance and travel. But because there are so many questions about cost, they said the study is needed.

“Since there is a need, I believe that’s why we’re going to go forward with the study,” Lowery said.

The City of Foley approved its contribution to the study Monday night. The Gulf Shores city council will have its vote next Monday, which the city expects to pass.

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