The public will get its first look at the completed Effingham County Jail this weekend, and Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie can’t wait to start moving inmates into it.
A ribbon cutting for the facility is scheduled for Sunday at 3 p.m., and an open house will be held Monday from noon-4 p.m.
In the meantime, McDuffie is anxious to get out of the jail that is being replaced as more problems emerge at the trouble-plagued facility.
“We’ve got a second boiler that’s gone down,” the sheriff explained. “I’m not going to buy another $18,000 boiler that’s only going to be used a few weeks.”
With the malfunctioning boiler, inmates in the jail have to be moved from one cell block to another to take showers. Those showers, now getting twice the use, also are feeling the effects, as knobs in the shower are breaking off from the extra use, the sheriff said.
The new jail is 51,000 square feet and is being built at a cost of more than $16 million. Once completed, the jail, when combined with the adjoining Effingham County Prison, can accommodate 332 prisoners. The current jail, built 22 years ago, was done so at the order of a federal judge.
Along with video visitation and video arraignment, the new jail also will be larger. The current jail is about 35,000 square feet and has room for 130 inmates. It also has no isolation units, which the new jail will have.
McDuffie said there will be no visitation March 27-28 as the sheriff’s office moves inmates from the old facility to the new jail March 28. The sheriff’s office administrative complex will be closed March 25-27 as the ECSO moves into temporary digs at the old county tag office on Highway 119. McDuffie estimated that could be the home for the sheriff’s office for eight to nine months.