In his report to the council, Police Chief Kenneth Bobo said the improvements are desperately needed.
“We’re at a high-risk level,” Bobo said.
Bobo said the city jail failed three areas of its health inspection in July and failed every possible category in February of 2011.
One primary safety concern, Bobo said, is the need for repairs to the jail’s showers. He said if the department has a female inmate, they must move all of the male inmates for her to take a shower.
“That’s just unsafe,” he said.
Other items on the list include a new coat of paint, installing new smoke alarms, patching holes in the walls and replacing tiles on the floor (which inmates were breaking up and using to jam doors).
Bobo’s also requested that the council allow him to move a controller for the department’s bay door. At its current location, the controller can be accessed by inmates when they use the department’s phone, allowing them to escape.
To reduce the costs for the city, Bobo said he plans to do much of the repairs himself, on weekends.
Mayor James “Pee Wee” Richardson said the money for the renovations will be taken out of the city’s improvement fund. City Clerk Kim Sides said that account now has about $25,000 to $35,000.
Council member Chris Pschirer, the only returning incumbent to the council, and former council member Sandra Garrison told the audience at Thursday’s meeting that the problems with the jail were not brought up to the previous council.
Former police chief Heath Allred said the issues with the jail have been a problem since before he took office, and his administration was never able to get the funding to make the repairs.
Allred said he believes the best thing for the city would be to close the jail and pay officials with the Walker County Jail to house Carbon Hill’s prisoners.
He said the change would not only cut costs, but reduce the city’s legal liability, too.