Chatham County Commission explores funding options for approved jail positions

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Chatham County Jail is overcrowded, and Sheriff John Wilcher has secured 10 new positions to help.

On Friday, Chatham County commissioners signed off on the extra staff but now have to figure out how to pay for them.

County Manager Lee Smith says he doesn’t know how they will pay for it yet, but he’s already looking at the possibilities, including savings from other programs or cash reserves.

His goal is to find the money fast.

The plan is for commissioners to approve the funding at their next meeting.

In all, 10 new positions and four promotions would cost about $429,000 in 2020, and double that amount in 2021.

The positions would staff the newly renovated Block 5 of the Chatham County Jail which will house inmates with mental health and substance abuse issues.

Smith says 20 to 25 percent of the jail’s population has some kind of mental health or substance abuse problem.

The county is close to finishing construction on a new mental health facility, near the intersection of DeRenne Avenue and Skidaway Road, to help relieve some of the pressure on the jail.

The Gateway Behavioral Health Center could be open as soon as this summer.

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