UPDATE (5:18PM): Sheriff Donna Tompkins says the air conditioning at the Muscogee County Jail is officially back online. She took to social media to share the official update.
“The highest that it got was 85. We checked it every hour, every dorm in the facility. And the highest ay dorm got was 85 degrees, which is not pleasant, but it is certainly not dangerous, either,” Tompkins said.
UPDATE (4:30PM): The Muscogee County Jail is reporting that the repair work to bring the air conditioning back on appears to be successful. They are now slowly bringing the systems back online to avoid a power surge.
Officials say the temperature never get over 85 degrees where inmates were housed.
ORIGINAL: The lack of air conditioning and power inside the Muscogee County jail has spilled over into the courts.
All three Columbus Recorder’s Court sessions for Tuesday have been canceled due to no air conditioning and power in the building. Recorder’s Court, which handles traffic violations as well as first appearances on felony charges, is attached to the jail.
A court spokesperson said that anyone who was scheduled to appear in Recorder’s Court today should check back with the court Wednesday morning to see if a new date for their case has been scheduled.
The air conditioning and some of the power in the jail went out in the early afternoon on Monday. City officials have had crews working to identify the problem. The jail is on three-phase power and one of the phases that provide electricity to the building failed on Monday, said Public Services Director Pat Biegler.
Crews started the repair work at 7 this morning. Beigler estimates that work will take 8-10 hours to complete.
A specialist was scheduled to start work on the main problem early this morning that has required electricity to the jail to be cut off, Biegler said Monday night.
There was a heavy guard presence inside the jail’s lobby Tuesday morning. There were signs posted that said Tuesday’s visitation had been canceled.
The high temperature on Monday was 97 degrees with a 108 heat index. The forecast today is for temperatures to reach 97 again with heat indexes over 105 degrees.
Two generators have been brought in to power the kitchen and other critical areas, Sheriff Donna Tompkins told News 3.
The temperatures inside the jail, where the population was more than 1,160 inmates on Monday, are being monitored, the sheriff said. Tuesday morning, the temperatures were 85 degrees inside the jail.
Staffing at the facility has been increased, the sheriff said. Ice is being brought in and made available to the inmates and staff.
WRBL News 3 will continue to follow this story as it develops throughout the day.