The Chatham County Sheriff’s Complex is largest jail in Georgia outside of Atlanta and is the third oldest Sheriff’s department in the United States, having been founded in 1732.  Sheriff Wilcher is the 63rd Sheriff to serve Chatham County.  600 employees operate the 75,000 square foot facility, which sees about 18,000 people held in a year and has approximately 1,800 people housed at any one time.  There are 9 housing units in total and 4 pods within a unit; there are 70 people in a pod. They serve 6,000 meals per day, which feeds all inmates and staff.  The cost per inmate is $70 per day.
The tour for RCSE members was led by Lieutenant Hall, Commander Todd Freesman (Rotary West member), and Major Boyles; we started in the Intake Area before they showed us one of the GED classrooms. We learned about several training programs, including a SERV Safe, the Chaplin’s program, and the Operation New Hope canine training program, all of which are designed to give inmates skills that will assist them when the re-enter society.  We had a chance to visit the Operation New Hope canine training program in one of the women’s housing pods, Unit 4, where we saw female inmates working with their dogs, all of whom are shelter dogs who would’ve otherwise been euthanized.  The intensive training program not only provides inmate handlers with job and life skills, but provides socialization and basic obedience training to the dogs to make them more suitable for adoption.  It started in 2011 and is the most successful program currently operating at the complex.