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Screven makes room for Effingham prisoners
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Effingham County will house some of its jail residents in Screven County’s facility under an agreement approved by the county commissioners Tuesday.

Under the pact, Effingham County will send 20 of its jail inmates to Screven County. For more than 20 inmates, Screven will charge Effingham an additional $30 per inmate per day. For less than 20 inmates, Effingham will be charged $35 per inmate per day.

“This is a fairly good deal,” said County Administrator David Crawley.

Crawley added that Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie needs the space in his jail. The county has 137 prisoners it is responsible for, Chief Deputy Richard Bush said, with 118 of them in the Effingham County Jail as of Tuesday morning. Nineteen others are housed in other facilities.

The Effingham Jail can hold up to 130 prisoners, according to Bush, and its capacity previously was 106. Jail officials have triple-bunked some of the rooms to increase the capacity. Screven County’s capacity is 248 inmates.

“That’s helped us out a little bit, but you can see we’re already over (the limit) if we had them all here,” Bush said.

He estimated the county jail is holding approximately 20 to 25 inmates who have been sentenced and are awaiting their transfer into the state prison system.

“If we can at least keep 20 in Screven, then we’re at least getting a $5 break on each person,” Bush said. “The only thing is we have to transport them back and forth.”

He said the jail doesn’t house federal prisoners overnight who are en route to the U.S. District Court in Savannah.

Commissioners also approved extending its capacity agreement with the state Department of Corrections for the Effingham County Prison.

The agreement stipulates the number of inmates to be housed at the prison and the compensation the county will receive for housing the inmates.

Under the agreement, the prison will house up to 250 state inmates and the county’s level of compensation is not expected to change. By state DoC guidelines, the reimbursement rate is $20 per inmate. The prison also is authorized to hold six county inmates for a maximum population of 256 prisoners.

In 1999, the county accepted a $3.8 million grant to build the prison. The county has a 10-year agreement with the state to pay back a pro rata share for every year the county does not sign off on the agreement. The current prison opened in 2001.

Coastal State Prison in Chatham County received additional inmates but did not receive additional funding.