Leadership changing at local jail

News 12 First at Five/ Wednesday, May 7, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Leadership at the Charles B. Webster Detention Center will be changing soon. Major Gene Johnson, the man in charge of the jail and everything in it, will be taking off his badge at the end of the month.

He's retiring after 49 years with the Sheriff's Office. He's worked under 8 different Sheriff's and one Chief of Police, but next month, it will be time for a new chapter.

"I've been working my whole adult life with the Sheriff's Office, the last 49 years, so it's going to be different. I'll have to break the habit of getting up early," he said.

He says his son-in-law is already lobbying for all of his white dress shirts, since he won't be needing them.

"I'm going to catch up on my hunting and fishing. Call all my buddies and find out where all the good ponds are.

He says he'll miss the people at the jail, but he isn't going to miss the stress.

"I'm not going to miss the headaches of the job. Messing with convicts all these years," he said.

He's seen a lot in 5 decades behind the badge. He says nothing surprises him any more.

"If somebody tells me there's martians out front, I wouldn't disbelieve it," he said.

He's also seen a lot of changes, the biggest one, technology.

"It's made it easier for law enforcement. Used to, we didn't have computers to help you. You had to beat the bushes. You have nationwide hookups now. You can find people a whole lot easier," he said.

But, the biggest change in all these years is the 16 million dollar renovation and expansion of the jail, bringing state of the art technology and more room for inmates. He delayed his retirement to see the project through.

"Wanted to finish this project. This jail project. Cause I think it's something the tax payers will be proud of," he said.

Even with all the changes Major Johnson has helped make to the jail's campus, in the next few SPLOST cycles, you can probably expect to see a few more.

"I think there will be a Phase 3 down the road. Like the old saying, you build it, they will come," he said.

And the inmates HAVE come. The jail averages about 900 inmates on a daily basis now, and even with the expansion, he says they're already bumping capacity.

"We have 50 acres out here. I think the next phase they'll probably have to build , extend the kitchen. extend the warehouse, and add another pod," he said.

But, that will be for the new leadership to decide, because Major Johnson is closing the door on those problems, and passing the torch.

Robert Leverett, a former warden at the Richmond County Correctional Institute, will take over as jail administrator at the end of the month.

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