VIDEO: County jail to upgrade data systems and inmate phone service
May 23, 2017 Share

VIDEO: County jail to upgrade data systems and inmate phone service

PHOTO: DeKalb County Sheriff Jimmy Harris addresses the commission on the upgrades and Chief Jailer Jonathan Langley’s work to put it all together. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor 

tyler@southerntorch.com

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — (Video Below) In Tuesday’s (May 23) meeting of the DeKalb County Commission, the commission heard an update from the county road department, approved a bid to replace a bridge, approved a new phone service for inmates at the jail, and changed the county’s ‘Back to School’ tax-free holiday.

The meeting began with Tom Broyles, director of the county’s road department, giving an update on the department’s work. Broyles informed the commission that his department was still patching potholes and had started on it’s herbicide application, but the rain and wind had seriously hampered the efforts. He also related that crews were currently working north of Ider on more “reclaiming” work that was discussed in detail during the last meeting.

Broyles also discussed a damage claim that the commission must approve and described the incident. An employee who handles the grounds maintenance at the department’s facilities, was a operating a John Deere Gator, that’s used for this purpose. The vehicle rolled down a hill and totaled a car in the parking lot. The employee had been reprimanded, but Broyles also pointed out he had investigated the incident, and still can’t figure out how it managed to happen. The commission approved the claim, and sent the claim to their insurance carrier.

After the road department, County Engineer Ben Luther discussed the bids for a bridge replacement project on County Road 212, near the landfill. The county will install a new bridge, adjacent to the old bridge, which was built in 1997. The commission approved the bid from Miller and Miller out of Huntsville for $331,868.00, which includes building the abutments, installing the pre-fabricated bridge, and pouring the deck.

Luther also discussed setting the speed limit on County 631 Mentone, which starts at Highway 117, near Camp Skyline, and the county is planning on repaving. Luther asked the commission to pass a resolution to set the speed limit on the road for 35 mph, which would match the design speed for the project.

“This is part of a federal aid project, and the majority of the money will be coming from federal aid,” District I Commissioner Shane Wootten pointed out before making the motion. The motion was approved.

Sheriff Jimmy Harris then discussed Chief Jail Administrator Jonathan Langley’s work on the proposal to accept a contract with a new inmate telephone service provider, “I just want to commend him on all the work that he’s done,” Harris said of Langley. “He’s put in numerous hours on this.”

“It’s time to renew our inmate telephone contract,” DeKalb County Jail Administrator Jonathan Langley said, “When I started as the jail administrator, I started looking at all the contracts we had, and the contracts we didn’t have, and thought it was always a good idea to have a good current contract,” said Langley. “So, I started looking at our inmate telephone contract, I saw in there where it was a 3 year contract, and unless you sent a letter, it would automatically renew for year, for three years.”

Langley then sent the company a letter and informed them that DeKalb County would not be renewing the contract, and would bid out the service.

“I had looked at some of the commissions of the course of the term of the contract we had with Telemate, and it was significantly better than what it was than the company we had before,” said Langley.

“They (inmates) get a telephone, and every time they use it, it charges them to use the telephone, so many cents per minute. But there is probably not a nickel’s worth of difference in all these companies, but some the services they provide and what they are actually charging inmates to use the telephone, or charge an inmate for visitation, is real important to us. When folks are sitting in jail, they don’t have money coming in. It’s their moms, their dads, their brothers….. somebody is funding their accounts to make phone calls or whatnot,” explained Langley.

“And if we can bring that cost done, it’s not really our job to punish them while they are in jail, it’s to take care of them when they are in jail,” he added.

Langley explained that after looking at a few companies and getting bids back, himself and the sheriff looked at each one, and took into account the costs on the inmates, the commission derived by the sheriff’s office from the service, and the technology required to use a new system. He also explained that the systems in the jail must communicate with the telephone provider, so that the system knows who’s in jail so that visitation may be scheduled.

“We currently had Cisco as a provider for our jail management software and records keeping software. Those don’t necessarily talk together, which is important as well because if they enter a warrant on the sheriff’s side, that person may be in jail, whenever they enter that warrant there should be an alert,” said Langley.

After looking at the costs of replacing all these data systems, Langley also inquired of the companies that submitted bids if they would provide a technology grant to help with the costs of replacing all the systems; to ensure that all the systems works together properly. All three companies submitted bids to include a technology grant with a guarantee of what the commission would be.

“All that put together, I got three bids, and one company really stood out among those three. There is a significant increase in commission, and a significant decrease in the amount it costs inmates to have visitation and make telephone calls,” explained Langley.

The commission accepted a bid with the company, NCIC, which would include a new records management system, which would work “hand in hand” with the new inmate telephone system. NCIC would also be paying $17,000.00 per year for the technology licenses and maintenance upgrades. Langley originally set out to get the best deal on phone service for inmates, but in the end, would upgrade all the data software at the jail, with the telephone provider paying for it.

“I commend Mr. Langley for all his work on coming up with this. He’s spend endless hours on it. It sounds like a no-brainer to me,” said District IV Commissioner DeWitt Jackson.

The commission also approved a budget transfer of $48,000.00 to the sheriff’s office for the maintenance and upkeep of patrol vehicles. County Administrator Matt Sharp pointed out that the commission has not had to transfer any money to the sheriff’s office this year, except for new vehicles. The only area that the sheriff’s office was in need of funds from the commission, was for the maintenance of existing vehicles, which totals $48,000.00.

The commission also approved a motion to change the date of the, ‘Back to School’ tax free holiday for the county. Many of the municipalities had already shifted the date to better coincide with the start of school. The new tax free holiday will be on the dates of July 21st – 23rd.

The next meeting of the DeKalb County Commission will be held on Tuesday, June 13th at 10 am in the DeKalb County Activities building.

Watch the Full Video:

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