By Mehgaan Jones
The Clayton County Jail is undergoing major changes to improve the health and safety of jail inmates and staff members. According to Capt. Deeann Cash, of the Clayton County Sheriff's Office, the renovations started in July, and should be completed by January.
The kitchen, and most of the jail's showers have received new flooring, ceilings, and new equipment. The kitchen will also receive a new tray washer, ovens, ice machines, a meat cutter, a mixer and a new freezer, according to jail officials.
By the beginning of next year, the flooring, ceilings and other renovations, in all of the jail's eight housing units, are expected to be completed, according to Cash, who is coordinating improvements to the jail, which is located in Jonesboro.
Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough recognized that the jail had infrastructure issues, and approached various county officials regarding health and safety problems presented by those issues, jail officials said.
"The Sheriff is very big on knowing ... what's going on, and listening to what people are telling him," said Cash. She said he takes the concerns of inmates, staff and family members of the inmates very seriously.
After Kimbrough met with county officials, funds for the jail renovations were released, according to jail officials..
Prior to Kimbrough's administration, the jail did have issues with the kitchen kettles being broken, according to Deputy Alicia Parkes, Clayton County Sheriff's Office spokesperson.
"The kitchen and equipment had deteriorated ... to the point where it was barely functional," Kimbrough said.
Cash added that the jail has since purchased three new kettles. According to Cash, when the kettles were not functional, the jail provided inmates with modified hot meals. "They would get hamburger patties and steak patties ... things you could cook in an oven," she said.
The Sheriff's Office web site says that inmates receive three hot meals per day.
Regarding other renovations, according to Cash, prior to improvements, shower floors at the jail were made of tile. Over time, water on the tiles started to leak, causing mold and water damage.
According to the Sheriff's Office web site, the new flooring is a seamless, industrial flooring. This type of flooring is easy to wash and drain, without the worry of lifting and cracking as with tile flooring, the web site says.
"They say that it [the cement floor] will last forever, and there will be no more leaks," said Capt. Cash.
The Clayton County Jail has been open for 10 years, and houses approximately 1,800 inmates per day, she said.
Kimbrough said the county will engage in future renovations at the jail, which will include plumbing fixtures and new lighting systems, designed to help conserve energy and reduce operating costs.