Put on noticePublished 5:31pm Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Beaufort County Sheriff Alan Jordan on Tuesday received an expected letter from the county attorney — a letter regarding the removal of Commissioner Hood Richardson from the Beaufort County Detention Center on Sept. 6.
“At a closed session meeting of the Beaufort County Commissioners on September 9, 2013, the Commissioners requested that I advise you to be directed to allow the County Commissioners upon request to have access to the County Confinement facilities for inspection purposes as to their repair, maintenance and operating requirements as provided by NCGS 153A-218,” wrote County Attorney Billy Mayo in a letter dated Sept. 20.
Richardson was removed from the county’s jail during an inspection of the facility by two commissioners and others.
As a result of that incident, the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners directed the county attorney to write a letter directing Jordan to allow commissioners access to the jail.
Jordan issued the following statement regarding the letter.
“I would like to direct your attention to North Carolina General Statute 162-22. It states ‘The Sheriff shall have the care and custody of the jail in his county; and shall be, or appoint, the keeper thereof.’ The jail belongs to the people of Beaufort County, and State law names the Sheriff of the County as the custodian and keeper of the jail. State law also points out in North Carolina General Statute 153A-218 that a county may appropriate funds to establish, acquire, erect, repair, maintain, and operate a local confinement facility. State law clearly establishes that the Sheriff is responsible for running the jail and the County is responsible for funding the jail,” Jordan said in the statement.
Jordan addressed jail tours in another section of the statement.
“I have both allowed and encouraged tours of the jail by the public and the media for many years and will continue to do so as often as facility security concerns and logistics allow. Whether someone is in the jail on a tour or in custody, they must behave. It has always been and always will be my position as the elected keeper of the jail that those who misbehave or cause disturbances at the jail will not be allowed to stay there unless so ordered by the Court,” Jordan said.
The inspection was being conducted to determine if the jail met conditions to reopen after being closed for about three months for repairs. The conditions were set down by Superior Court Judge Wayland Sermons, who earlier this summer ordered the jail closed until it was repaired and outfitted with any needed equipment so it could safely house prisoners.
The jail reopened Sept. 13.
Richardson believes Jordan overstepped his authority by having a commissioner carrying out his responsibility as an elected official removed from the jail. Jordan acknowledges he and Richardson disagree on several jail-related issues.
The Sept. 6 incident at the jail is just one of several conflicts, including jail matters, involving Richardson and Jordan in recent years.