Geneva County Sheriff Tony Helms tells a harrowing story about a recent would-be jailbreak. Two inmates took a piece of metal and created a tool that could be used as a screwdriver, which they then used to dismantle a door lock. They made it to the fence, and might have gone over the fence despite the concertina wire had an attentive corrections officer not noticed that a surveillance camera had been redirected. A deputy was dispatched and the great escape was foiled – as it should have been.

The corrections officer deserves commendation for his or her keen eye, as does the deputy for swift response and resolution. Sheriff Helms has some good people in his employ.

But what’s harrowing about the story is that it might not have happened had the jail been in better shape. Helms talks of metal parts on the verge of rusting through, and concrete that requires Sakrete patching. The idea that a door lock could be easily breached with a crudely shaped tool from found metal should alarm every official in Geneva County.

Fortunately Geneva County is constructing a new jail, and the work is ahead of schedule. The new facility will include up-to-date security features that will make current physical plant problems moot.

However, county officials must assist the sheriff with appropriate finances to fortify the existing facility, mitigating the possibility of another escape attempt before the new jail is complete.

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