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THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 2007
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Madison sheriff to take only felony suspects to curb overcrowding

HUNTSVILLE (AP) — The Madison County Sheriff’s Department plans to move prisoners to lockups elsewhere in Alabama and is telling area law enforcement agencies that it can accept only felony suspects in an effort to relieve overcrowding.

“We’re at critical mass, and we were supposed to have a facility a year and a half ago,” Chief Deputy Chris Stephens said. “Without the jail being finished, we’re at the wall.”

Stephens said the jail set a record this week with 1,032 inmates in all of its facilities. He said several inmates will go to DeKalb County and that the jail will no longer accept people arrested on misdemeanor charges starting Thursday.

City and county leaders voted in July 2002 to merge the county and city jails, which held 702 inmates at the time. But a $24.36 million contract, awarded in February 2004 to build an eight-story jail addition with 900 inmate beds, has been plagued by cost overrun with construction halted for a time due to structural problems.

It was to be completed last April. But Bruce Taylor, the city’s director of facilities and fleet management, said the completion is still a year away and that the cost is now estimated at more than $44 million.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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