Archived Story

The public’s take on the jail issue

Published 9:05pm Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Earlier this month a letter to the editor was submitted in support of building a new jail at the Chocowinity Industrial Park.

The letter discussed the extensive study that the jail’s relocation has been given by the subcommittee examining the project, but the letter never once went into any detail as to what the specific arguments and reasoning behind the relocation decision were based on. It omitted mentioning that the first choice for relocation, the Washington Industrial Park, was so poorly researched that the site was abandoned because the site’s co-owner, the City of Washington, was never consulted, refused to grant approval and, strongly expressed its desire to keep the jail on Second Street. Neither did the letter give any specific rebuttal to the public statements that have been listed as objections by the three Beaufort County commissioners or the Washington City Council members who are in disagreement with the recommendation for relocation. Further, statements concerning the outright lack of safety at the present facility were remarkable in their failure to mention that inmates and staff had just been cleared to reoccupy the current jail after completion of repairs and inspections by state and local building safety experts.

In summary, the letter urged county residents to just do as we are told by those chosen few who have convinced themselves that they deserve to be obeyed by the rest of us. We are truly lucky to have them.

Residents and taxpayers of Beaufort County might wonder why we should give any thought at all to the issue of relocating or even rebuilding the jail, since we are being given no vote, at all, in spending the more than $20 million that will be required to complete the project…if it stays on budget. The same politically driven decision-making process that spent $35 million on an ill-conceived school reconstruction, $15 million on a failed hospital remodeling and $10 million on an entirely discredited economic development boondoggle now is set to spend an additional $20 million without opening this expenditure to a vote of approval by taxpayers and residents who will need to pay off these loans. This is $80 million spent in a county of 50,000 souls in just 8 years. The great majority of it is debt that our children and we will struggle with for the next 25 years or more. Maybe we should at least talk about this.

Politicians need to win our support with the validity of their arguments, not the depth of their arrogance.

The Washington Daily News has the opportunity to open its pages to the debate.  Allow the opposing factions to list their strongest points and then allow the points listed to be challenged by the opposing parties. If the “Yeas” and the “Nays” are so sure of themselves, then let them convince us.

Let’s hear what they have to say and then let’s vote on it!


Warren Smith

Beaufort County, N.C.



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