Coffee County Sheriff Dave Sutton said the jail is housing 77 inmates currently, although some inmates have been released through judges’ orders due to concerns with the coronavirus pandemic.
“Right now we’re housing 77 inmates,” Sutton said at Monday’s Coffee County Commission meeting. “Most of you have heard through the grapevine, if you haven’t, we’ve released (inmates) through the judges. The sheriff’s department did not release them, but they’ve gone through a judge and if they were in a situation where they could be taken out of the county jail, they have been removed.”
Sutton later estimated the number of those released was 20 to 30, and added those were all misdemeanor offenders and court-ordered because the emphasis is on safety.
“Some of them are now on ankle monitors, some of them are on cell phone monitors, other have just been bonded out and released,” he said. “This is our policy. We’re going to continue to do this. Our officers and everybody within the county, state troopers, we’re writing a summons instead of bringing somebody that needs not to be in that jail.
“For instance, on a minor misdemeanor, they will be issued a summons. They’ll be taken to a clerk. The clerk will issue a summons and we’ll set a court date for maybe a month, two months down the road. They’ll come in and do their business with a judge.”
Sutton said over the weekend the jail took in two inmates “and they’ve already been released.” Both of those were on DUIs. The sheriff said they “stayed long enough to blow their zeroes, and through the lawyers and the court system they have been removed. This is how we’re going to continue to do business.”
The sheriff detailed steps taken to keep the jail disinfected, including items donated from the school systems.
“We’ve got wipes down there. We’re wiping the jail cells down, we’re wiping the bars down. Just about anything that comes in contact with a human, we’re wiping it down,” Sheriff Sutton said. “We’re keeping it very well disinfected in there. We’re taking care of those that are inside that jail.
“Both of our LPNs are constantly there to assist us. If we do have a problem that comes up, we are working very closely with EMA. We’re on the phone constantly with (Director) James Brown.”
The sheriff also said all pistol permits have been suspended indefinitely. How, if you have a pistol permit that has expired, keep the permit.
“The reciprocity have been moved forward, we’re still going to do it. But do not come to the sheriff’s office,” he said.
In fact, his office is limited in-person access, like the rest of county government.
“We will allow one person in at a time if they have a problem and come in to see us,” Sutton said. “We’ll do that one on one. A lawyer can come in (to the jail) as long as he maintains a six-foot distance and talk to his inmate. You can still do visitation on the phone, but it will be through a telephone — no personal contact of any type.”
He asked that citizens do what his officers instruct them to do.
“One thing I’d like to add, you would be helping us out at courthouses, please, if you have to come up there leave your children at home or leave them with somebody else,” he said. “We don’t want to get them exposed to any more than they have to be. The younger generation can carry it (the virus).
“So with your cooperation, if everything falls into place we’ll get through this. We’re going to make it, folks. If you need to contact us, we’re still out there 100 percent on patrol. If you need us, call us. If it’s a case we can handle on the telephone, we’re going to handle it on the telephone instead of a personal contact. But if it is a personal contact, we will get an officer to see you.”