Sheriff Hale: Close jail, remove courthouse security

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale said Wednesday a planned $10 million budget cut starting next month will force him to close the county's jail in Bessemer and remove deputies from the county courthouses.

Hale talked to FOX6 News one day after the county commission voted to cut $10 million from his fiscal 2010 budget.  Hale said the cuts will force him to close the jail in Bessemer and remove all deputies from courthouse security details.

"I have to look at closing down the Bessemer Jail," said Hale. "In other words, combining Bessemer and Birmingham jail in Birmingham."

Hale said closing the jail will save him more than $4 million.

Deputies have provided security at the county courthouses since 1,000 county workers were put on administrative leave without pay in August.  County commissioners said Wednesday they hoped Hale would not pull his deputies until the county workers return October 10th.

"If he starts doing things that appear to be punitive to the rest of the general public who have been suffering with these long lines and everything, that's fine," said Commission President Bettye Fine Collins.

"He can play King Kong all he wants to," said Commissioner Jim Carns. "That's what he has been doing, so he can keep playing it."

Commissioner Bobby Humphryes said without courthouse security, commissioners may be forced to find money to bring the security detail back sooner.

"We will have to adapt and make due," said Humphryes. "Do what we got to do to keep the business going. We may have to call back security people early."