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Autauga County Sheriff reportedly waiting on County Commissioners to act on jail evacuation

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An Alabama sheriff evacuated his county's jail late last week, citing a need to prevent unspecified "health and safety issues." Sheriff Mark Harrell said in a statement posted on Facebook that deputies began transporting inmates from the Autauga County Metro Jail to other facilities in the morning. His office's website currently lists 164 people on its inmate roster. Harrell told ABC-33/40 that he’s waiting for the Autauga County Commission to act on the evacuation, which could reportedly last weeks or month.

"We have worked out the logistics with several agencies to house inmates," Harrell said. "We have made arrangements to process individuals quickly and house them in a safe environment."

It was not clear which agencies those were, or how long they agreed to house them.

Harrell said he has a "moral obligation for the safety, health and security of all individuals who come through the doors of the Autauga County Metro Jail, whether it's my staff, Law Enforcement Officers or inmates."

He added that the County Commission should address the health and safety issues before he will put anyone else in the lockup. He did not elaborate.

Autauga County Administrator Scott Kramer said the commission is aware of issues at the jail, but he also did not provide specifics, news outlets reported.

"We have been working diligently, and in good faith, with Sheriff Harrell and his staff to address their important concerns; we will continue to do so and ask him and his staff to do the same," Kramer said in a statement.

The commission had workers at the facility this week to address such concerns, and experts carried out inspections, he added.

"We will persist to make improvements, but within the scope of the law and the resources available to us, to ensure the wellbeing of anyone — inmate, staff, law enforcement officer, or member of the public — who enters the jail," Kramer said

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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