Lights, camera, but what’s the action?: Should old jail be used for movies or juvenile center?

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Thursday, November 7, 2019
News 12 at 11 o'clock

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Could the lights and cameras slow down the action when it comes to demolishing the old jail on Walton Way? It's one of the questions that may keep the building for now.

In July, commission voted to demolish the old law enforcement center, and use the space for a juvenile justice center but things have changed.

"Little did we know what was gonna actually come about with the jail. Now that it is coming about, maybe we need to revisit that," said John Clarke, commissioner

Jennifer Bowen from Film Augusta says four films have come to Augusta in 2019.

"The prison is the reason that all 4 of those film productions chose Augusta," said Bowen.

The city doesn't make a ton of money on renting out the jail Clarke says. They received about $3,000 last year. But he says the benefits go far beyond that.

"They're spending a whole lot of money on hotels, restaurants, the night scene. They employ people locally," said Clarke.

Clarke says he fully supports the juvenile court system, and he's not saying the building should stay up forever but thinks there could be a different solution.

"We need to do something, but we need to do it right," said Clarke.

And in the meantime, he and Bowen hope the city can keep making money on the old jail.

"It is a unique asset that the film industry has said they're very interested in using," said Clarke.

News 12 spoke with Judge Carl Brown who's been pushing for the new juvenile center. He says there is a huge need for one, but would be open to further discussions about exactly where it should go.

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