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FCN exclusive: Take a look inside the new Forsyth County Jail

About Progress 2016

The titles and rankings seem to come in droves each year.

From health and wealth to education and youth, most Forsyth residents know the county is at the forefront of north Georgia and the state in various factors that help shape quality of life.

These factors — which residents embrace and have come to expect — carry their share of numbers. Indeed, politicians and others are fond of touting such statistics.

With that in mind, the staff of the Forsyth County News contacted government and school officials, business owners and public safety personnel to compile some interesting and easy-to-read figures from the past year.

By the numbers

412 – Employees
340 – Sworn deputies
72 – Civilian employees
5 – K9s
200 – Narcan doses carried by deputies to be used to reverse overdoses
2 – Lives saved by sheriff’s deputies with Narcan
96 – AED devices carried by deputies
1 – Life saved by deputies with AEDs
355 – Students who completed the CHAMPS program that launched in 2015
50 – Citizen’s Law Enforcement Academy graduates
24 – Community or educational programs

To read the entire Progress 2016 edition, click here.

About six months after the new Forsyth County Jail opened, inmates and employees have settled in to the high-tech security facility in downtown Cumming.

The Forsyth County News recently toured the jail, which is connected via a bridge-way to the new Forsyth County Courthouse on the other side of Maple Street.

The structures, as well as two parking decks downtown, were built using the first $100 million of a 1-cent sales tax program voters approved in November 2011.

Security is an overarching theme throughout the floors and between the various rooms in the building, from booking cells to the medical clinic to the maximum security cell blocks.

“The building was designed so that there’s always a shelter in place. If something happens in pod No. 1, we can lock it down and move everyone to another one,” said Forsyth County Sheriff’s Capt. Chuck Smith.

The Sept. 11, 2015, opening concluded a multi-year process that saw construction begin in July 2013.

Originally slated to open in April 2015, a rock deposit in nearby water and sewer lines slowed construction.

The courthouse opened in March across from the old one, which is now home to the sheriff’s office headquarters and Probate Court.

The jail opening continued to be pushed back in order to complete training for the staff at the new facilities and transporting equipment and inmates.

The 608-inmate-capacity jail was built, Smith said, to be expandable in the future. It currently houses nearly 320 inmates.

Those arrested by Cumming police are also housed in the jail.

It was estimated the current facility will reach capacity by 2025, at which time another tower can be built where the parking lot was recently completed along Veterans Memorial Blvd.

The laundry room and kitchen have space for additional large devices.

Currently, 108 employees work in the jail, Smith said, including 94 sworn officers and 14 civilians.


The booking and intake staging area contains a number of different cells, from air-filtration-isolated ones that can house someone with an airborne virus to padded cells that can hold someone who is upset or actively dangerous to themselves or others. Everything that has to do with intake surrounds the property room, which is where inmates’ belongings are held while they remain in jail. Inmates are brought into the booking room and medical clinic through different halls, depending on whether they have been checked for contraband.

Cell pod with day area/cell

Each regular pod can hold 64 inmates, with four inmates sharing each cell.

Pods have a common area that includes tables, an outdoor, covered recreation area and showers. Half of the pod’s inmates are let into the common area at a time. Inmates are allowed visitation by video in the common area, too, as well as a multi-purpose room, where lawyers can meet with their clients.

Dentist and medical exam rooms

All medical procedures are done in the jail unless an inmate requires an emergency room or surgery. Medical staff is on duty around the clock.

Front entrance and information/records

Visitors enter the jail from Veterans Memorial Boulevard, where they can attend video visitations, deposit cash into an inmate’s commissary and request public records.

Master command

Deputies in the master command room control and see everything that goes on in the jail and can shut down sections in an emergency.

All cell doors are controlled electronically. Master command in the jail can lock down and take control of the courthouse if something were to happen there, including shutting down the bridge between the two.

Floors are color- and number-coded to make it easier to discern each.

Doors outlined in red distinguish rooms where weapons are not allowed.

Maximum security

Maximum security is separated from the regular pods and has an additional barrier of safety in place. Pods surround a central command center that can see everything at one time. While a deputy has a desk inside the common area of the regular pods, maximum security pods are controlled indirectly to minimize contact and possible altercations. One pod contains a super-max pod within it so inmates can be separated with their own tables while not having to leave the pod.