Bessemer prisoners transported to Birmingham Jail

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It is moving day for a number of prisoners at the Jefferson County Jail in Bessemer. Some 200 inmates will be transferred to the county jail in Birmingham. Sheriff Mike Hale says he have to close the jail because this week the Jefferson County Commission cut his budget by ten million dollars. The closure will mean Hale will be forced to lay off 46 deputies in order to save $4 million.""I'd rather inmates sleep three to a cell in the Birmingham division than discontinues service to Cardiff, Clay, any of the cities I've called out." said Hale.

Earlier this week Teresa Petelos, the presiding court judge in Bessemer expressed concern to Fox6 News, shutting down the jail and forcing inmates to commute to court will slow down the judicial process."We are going to do the best we can to move the cases. We will have to give the sheriff department time to get our prisoners there. It does create some chaos."Petelos said.

But Hale says that will not happen."This is not the best time to be put in the Bessemer Jail. You will receive fair, humane treatment and yes to the judges in Bessemer they will be on time for court."Hale said.

But, Bessemer attorney Ralph "Buddy" Armstrong is worried about the quality of care for his client and his ability to contact his clients, some of whom are facing capital murder charges."So we will have to get to Birmingham, twice. It will hinder our ability to properly represent our client."Armstrong said.

Some of the families of Bessemer inmates have contacted Armstrong to see if the court could force Hale to bring the prisoners back."We feel like and several members of the criminal defense bar out here feel like it's necessary to file an action to prevent this."Armstrong said.  Sheriff Hale says he not afraid of lawsuits being filed over the prisoner transfer.