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Autauga County Sheriff orders his jail evacuated to force County Commission to build a new jail facility

On Thursday, Autauga County Sheriff Mark Harrell wants changes in the jail; and he wants those changes now. In a move designed to force the County Commission to give him what he wants, Sheriff Harrell announced that he is evacuating the Autauga County Metro Jail due to health and safety issues.

Harrell was appointed Sheriff 18 months ago after longtime Sheriff Joe Sedinger died in office.

"On January 16, 2023 I was appointed as Sheriff of Autauga County by Governor Kay Ivey. On that day, I swore an Oath to Protect and Defend the Constitution of the State of Alabama and the United States. I have 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. Effective today June 6, 2024 I will be evacuating the Autauga County Metro Jail."

Apparently, there is a showdown over funding with the County Commission. Sheriff Harrell is demanding that the Commission give him what he wants.

"It will be up to the County Commission to properly and adequately fix the issues to prevent health and safety issues before I, as the Sheriff of Autauga County, will place another individual in the jail," Sheriff Harrell said in his statement.

The inmates were not turned loose, but must have been relocated.

"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. I am aware of the ramifications of this decision but it is my obligation by State and Federal Law to do so as Sheriff of this great county. Further information on when these issues will be resolved need to be addressed to the Autauga County Commission."

What exactly are the health and safety concerns that Harrell wants addressed has not been released and neither has a response from the Autauga County Commission. How much money Harrell wants from the commission to address his concerns is also unknown at this time.

There are 166 men and women currently on Harrell's inmate roster. Where exactly that they are being housed right now has not been released.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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