Fitting in: Beaufort County inmates segregated, movedPublished 7:34pm Thursday, June 20, 2013
The closure of the Beaufort County Detention Center has proven a financial difficulty for the county, but the inmates transported and detention officers who continue to guard them face their own difficulties, according to Capt. Catrena Ross, administrator of the jail.
Earlier in the month, two power outages within three days prompted Beaufort County Sheriff Alan Jordan to transport the 67 inmates in the Courthouse basement jail to other facilities in neighboring counties. However, transporting them was only the beginning, according to Ross.
“Our detention officers still work the same 12-hour shifts. Now they’re leaving at 5 a.m. to drive to Bertie County,” Ross explained.
On June 8, the jail’s male population was moved to the Bertie Correctional Institution, part of the Department of Adult Corrections prison system. There, they are segregated from the rest of the prison population and guarded by Beaufort County detention officers who make the 75-mile round trip to Windsor daily. The local jail’s nurse, Penny Mansifeld, also makes the drive for sick calls and to dispense prescriptions to inmates on medication.
Women and juveniles incarcerated in the Beaufort County jail were initially transported to the Pitt County Detention Center. They’ve been forced to move twice since then, according to Ross.
Pitt County Detention Center has its own issues with overpopulation, and at 21 female inmates over capacity, Ross had to find another facility to house her displaced inmates.
“We knew it was going to be temporary when we took them there,” Ross said.
Last Friday, the inmates were moved to the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail in Windsor, also temporarily, because Bertie-Martin suffers from overcrowding as well.
“Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m., I got up and started calling jails,” Ross said. “Sampson County, Washington, Pamlico — they couldn’t help … People just don’t take your inmates. It’s not that simple.”
After they spent the one night at Bertie-Martin, Ross finally found her inmates another temporary home at the Lenoir County Detention Center in Kinston.
Beaufort County inmates are now spread over three counties: men in Bertie, women and juveniles in Lenoir, while new inmates are processed in Beaufort County then transported to the Pamlico County Detention Center in Bayboro.
Beaufort County is paying $55 per day, per inmate to Lenoir County, Ross said.
As of Tuesday, Beaufort County had spent nearly $40,000 to house the inmates in other facilities, a figure that does not include transportation for both detention officers and of inmates to and from court appearances, nor overtime for the additional deputies needed to do the transporting.
According to Beaufort County Manager Randell Woodruff, the initial electrical problem has been traced to the recent installation of an industrial dryer used for inmates’ laundry, but there is no date set for the jail’s reopening.
“The jail is still operating,” Ross said, explaining how she and her officers continue to fulfill their duties remotely and by commute.
“People don’t know what a big deal this really is.”