Chatham County Jail has significantly evolved over the past 30 years. For 90 years the jail was located on Habersham Street next to the Police Department. Its capacity was approximately 300 inmates and averaged about 270 inmates daily. The average daily female population was 18 which seems low when compared to the 167 average daily population for 2004.
The building boasted a 1224 bed that was supposed to handle the inmate population without fear of overcrowding until the year 2010. Unfortunately Chatham County Jail has at or over capacity since 1999 which has led to our department seeking alternatives to incarceration.
In 2005, Chatham County entered into a contract with Deboer Vining to provide a 300 bed temporary housing unit to help relieve some of the population overcrowding. At that time, the Detention Center had an average daily population of 1455 inmates which represented some 2311 inmates above the 1224 design capacity. The temporary housing was only designed as a stop gap measure.
The inmate population continued to climb, promting the Sheriff’s Department and the Board of Commissioners to seek funds for the necessary expansion. A comprehensive evaluation and needs assessment was completed by the Facilty Group in cooperation with the Polote Corporation which identified the need to construct additional beds through phases that would allow the Detention Center to reach a total inmate capacity of 2774 beds by the year 2025. The study promoted a move to add, during the first of possibly three phases, 769 beds to the 1224 permanent beds bringing our total bed capacity for that phase to 1992. Chatham County Jail is anticipating the completion of the first phase of this project in late 2011 or early 2012.