Archived Story

Move to have jail order dissolved fails

Published 6:03pm Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A second attempt to have the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners request that a court order regarding the county’s jail failed during the board’s last regular meeting.

As he did earlier this year, Commissioner Hood Richardson made a motion to ask Superior Court Judge Wayland Sermons Jr. to dissolve his order regarding a new jail in the county.  The motion failed by a 4-3 vote. Voting against it were board Chairman Jerry Langley and commissioners Al Klemm, Ed Booth and Robert Belcher. Voting for the motion were Richardson and commissioners Stan Deatherage and Gary Brinn.

Before the vote, Richardson accused Sermons and some commissioners of working together to push the building of a new jail.

“The only reason this order is out is collusion between Judge Sermons and the people here on this county Board of Commissioners to get a jail because when that order is dissolved, they have lost the only argument they have as to why we have to have a new jail. Judge Sermons is trying to ingratiate his reputation and his resume at the expense of Beaufort County by being the first judge in the state to overcome the state law and set the precedent that the judge can build a jail. Right now, he can’t do it,” Richardson said.

Richardson has argued the existing jail meets state jail guidelines and still has a useful life.

“We have letters from the state to prove that. There are no defects in the jail that we have,” Richardson said at the board’s March 10 meeting.

That’s partly why he wants Sermons, the resident Superior Court judge in the 2nd Judicial District, to dissolve the order he issued in September in the wake of the jail being evacuated for safety reasons after several problems, including power outages, hit the jail in June of last year. The jail reopened Sept. 13 of last year and began housing inmates again. Along with issuing an order reopening the jail, Sermons also ordered, “That the Board of Commissioners shall continue to plan and design a county jail that meets the minimum standards in the State of North Carolina. That such planning and construction shall proceed in as timely a manner as possible given the time restraints of architectural service, financing, and construction times.”

Sermons further required the Board of Commissioners to submit a written progress report on the new jail before each administrative session of Beaufort County Criminal Superior Court. That order included a list of those dates.

Some commissioners, especially Richardson, took exception to Sermons’ order regarding the building of a new jail.



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