New Jail Tour with Effingham Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

New Jail Tour with Effingham Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie

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EFFINGHAM COUNTY -

Effingham Sheriff, Jimmy McDuffie says the county jail was covered with mold, rust and holes---in ceilings, floors and walls-- for years.

But thanks to some key improvements, after more than a decade, a new facility is starting to take shape.

When he first took office--- he was prepared to take on all the duties before him---but he had no idea the building that soon became his office was falling down around him. Soon they will move into a brand new facility and he says it can't get here fast enough.

"Wow...it's got that wow factor," as he walks through for the first time.

It's been a labor of love for Sheriff McDuffie. He says he knew the new jail would be top notch, but had no idea it would look like this.

 

"Coming from what we are used to and have had to deal with, it's been a lot for us. I never thought as my tenure as sheriff, that we were in a project like this."

It's a project he says is absolutely necessary since the current facility is past the point of maintaining.

The leaky windows, broken equipment and rusted walls have come to be too much.

"The building we are in has so many problems," he says.

"We just eighteen thousand dollars in for a new water heater and we just had to spend nine thousand dollars to put a new air conditioner on it."

To save time and money, the Effingham Sheriff's Office is re-using the molds from the Chatham County Jail. They lay the concrete, let it dry and stand the walls up. Two weeks of work has already yielded lots of progress.

But he says they have a great responsibility.

"We've gotten to the point where we are watching every dollar, and if we ever have to expand, we can just add on that way instead of having to do this whole project again."

Good thing, because this facility is built to last. These cell blocks are guaranteed 25 to 30 years.

 

Unlike the old building, there are no windows in the cell. If someone was to try to break free, the only way out is through the door.

"They are not going to be look outside and whistling at people or hollering outside," says the Sheriff.

"It's not built to be nice and pretty. It's built to be a jail and we try to make it a jail, not like a Holiday Inn."

The new jail is estimated to cost about 16.3 million dollars and is almost double the size of the current facility. Sheriff McDuffie says this wouldn't be possible without Effingham Residents passing the "Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax" referendum. It should be finished in about a year.

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