MACON, Ga. — The Bibb County Sheriff's Office is defending conditions inside the county jail.
For months, families and county leaders have expressed concerns over safety, hygiene, food and more. They've asked what the sheriff's office is doing to fix the problem, but they blame the inmates themselves.
Rats, roaches and bad plumbing are all problems families have reported in recent months.
Janet Miley worries about how they affect her grandson, Cameron. He's been in jail since February. She hopes he's safe, but she hears about fights and unsanitary conditions.
"Cells that are not locking. There's understaffing at the jail," she said.
Maj. Eric Woodford runs the jail. In an email Monday, he confirmed many of the conditions other families have complained about. He blames inmates who throw urine and feces. Woodford says some even start small fires inside.
Now, as punishment, Woodford says some inmates are on a restricted diet: Nutra Loaves.
"I did tell him, 'They're not giving you anything else to eat. Try to swallow it. Chew it. Swallow it fast,'" Miley said, recalling a conversation with her grandson.
The loaves are soy patties that are supposed to deliver all necessary nutrients. Woodford says they also limit who can access the commissary and how much time certain inmates get to spend outside their cells.
Bibb Commissioner Virgil Watkins heard about them when Miley addressed the commission Tuesday. He calls it cruel.
"We pay good money as a commission, and as a community to provide nutrition at that jail, and that's what we're providing?" Watkins asked.
Miley says she doesn't expect jail to be the nicest experience, but she does want better conditions for her grandson.
"It's not just family member concerns that I have. It's also the safety of staff," Miley said.
We reached out to the sheriff's office to find out how many inmates the restrictions affect and how long they'll be in place. They said for security reasons, they didn't want to discuss protocols.
They did say behavior is improving and the restrictions will be lifted when it's no longer a problem. They added only inmates with disciplinary problems are affected.
Meanwhile, Watkins is calling for a review of jail finances to find out where county money is going.