Bibb County Jail

Officials say several improvements have been made at the Bibb County jail since four inmates escaped last year.

Credit: Web file

The Macon-Bibb County Commission will consider adding magnetic locks and other upgrades to the Bibb County Jail at its Tuesday meeting.

The proposal would cost $2 million and comes about six months after four inmates, one of whom was charged with murder, escaped from the jail. The agenda item said the money will go towards installing more magnetic locks, but does not specify what else the money may be used for beyond general “improvements to the jail.” The ordinance would take effect immediately upon passage or the mayor’s approval. The county sheriff previously confirmed significant security measures had already been taken after the escape.

The four inmates — Joey Fournier, Marc Kerry Anderson, Johnifer Dernard Barnwell and Chavis Demaryo Stokes — escaped in the early hours of Oct. 16, 2023. According to reports from the time of the incident, the inmates got out through a damaged window in an interview room and then exited through a cut fence.

A blue Dodge Challenger parked near the fence appeared to aid the escape. Authorities recovered the car about a week later in Macon.

The inmates started their escape in the oldest part of the jail, and it took law enforcement about a month to take all four men back into custody.

The Bibb County Jail has already undergone changes in wake of the escape. Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said more than $1 million has been put towards adding magnetic locks to cell doors, installing new security camera systems, repairing the fence around the jail and training staff.

The Bibb County Sheriff’s Department also conducted an internal investigation following the escape. Travaris Freeman, a deputy who was on duty when the inmates escaped and who’d worked for the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office since 2020, was fired in December 2023 for failing “to maintain the security of the jail,” according to a news release.

“We have taken several measures to ensure this does not happen again,” Davis said at the time. “Magnetic locks have been updated and added to cell doors, new security camera systems have been added, and the fencing around the jail has been repaired and new security wires have been added for an extra measure of security, among other things.”

The ordinance said that while the county commission approved the sheriff’s total FY24 budget in June 2023, the supplemental appropriation would come from the Sheriff’s Commissary Fund and specifically focus on upgrades to security and infrastructure.

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with The Telegraph.