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Early Retirement Saves Money, Creates Budget Crunch at Dekalb Jail | News

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Early Retirement Saves Money, Creates Budget Crunch at Dekalb Jail
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DEKALB, Co.-- An effort to save money in Dekalb County has put the Sheriff in a budget and manpower challenge at the jail.

Sheriff Thomas Brown lost 89 employees when early retirement was offered by Dekalb County as a cost saving measure. Most of those employees worked at the Dekalb County jail. The sheriff says as he has struggles to find qualified entry-level replacements, he's working his remaining detention officers overtime to maintain order at the jail.

"We have to have enough people at the jail to operate it safely," said Sheriff Brown. "We been having regularly work people overtime, and that's pushed against a depressed budget I have."

Sheriff Brown said he's already spent a million dollars beyond his overtime budget. He's been using money from other areas of his budget to keep the jail fully staffed.

Meanwhile, the current population of the jail is around 3,300, more than ever before. The sheriff says inmates fight every day, and once a week an inmate turns on a detention officer.

Sgt. A.M. Evans says it's wearing on the detention officers facing mandatory overtime.

"Which means we've had a number of things to happen as a result," said Sgt. Evans. "The officers are facing burnout."

Dekalb commissioners will soon vote on whether to use more than 2-million dollars in the county reserve fund to help at the jail, the courts, and other areas of the judicial system facing budget issues. Sheriff Brown says he'll need about 700-thousand dollars to avoid furloughs.

"I'm getting antsy about it," said Brown. "We're getting toward the end of the year and I'm not feeling too good about telling my employees I have to furlough them between now and the end of the year."

Chief Operating Officer Richard Stogner admits taking from the reserve fund will create more of a challenge with next year's budget.

"But the constitutional officers have to operate," said Stogner. "The courts have to operate, and we have to incarcerate people."

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