The Jasper City Council voted at its last meeting to allow Mayor Sonny Posey to sign a contract that would move city inmates to the Walker County Jail. The city would pay up to $32 per inmate, per day.
Billy Luster, the newly-elected commission chairman, said he wasn’t contacted about the issue until last week.
“I was brought into the conversation on Tuesday of last week when I received a copy of the contract,” Luster said. “My office has not been contacted by any city official about this. It is not on the agenda today, because I do not want us to make a hasty decision.”
Luster added there wasn’t a problem with trust between the two groups.
“This is not a trust issue. It is a practicality issue,” he said. “In the interest of all concerned, I would like to have an opportunity to look at this and digest it before we make a decision. We owe it to the voters of Walker County to be comfortable and satisfied when we enter into any type of contract.”
Jasper Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe attended Monday’s meeting and spoke with Luster briefly afterwards.
“I wanted to explain our department’s posture on the issue,” Rowe said. “If they are in the business of contractually holding municipal prisoners, we want to be customers. If we can do that, our issue will be resolved. If we can’t do that, we are going to have to rethink some things.”
District 1 Commissioner Keith Davis said quick decisions in the past have hurt the county.
“We are in huge financial straights because of decisions made hastily in the past,” he said. “When issues come before this commission, we are going to take time to evaluate them. We were elected to do things the right way. I was given the contract on Thursday. No one could expect us to make a decision today.”
Commissioners said they would consider the contract and vote on the issue at a later meeting, possibly as early as its next meeting on Dec. 17.