Commissioners count costs of new jail

Published 5:22 am Tuesday, October 9, 2007

By Staff
Split on whether to build in Washington or out in county
Staff Writer
Should Beaufort County build a new jail downtown or out of town and how much would the latter cost? The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners asked for answers to that question at its regular October meeting Monday night.
Commissioners Hood Richardson and Stan Deatherage said they are concerned with the cost of locating a new jail outside of town because of costs associated with transporting prisoners to and from the courthouse.
In a presentation to the board, Todd Davis representative of the Brennan and Associates architectural firm said aside from certain necessary trips outside the jail, like for medical procedures, video technology has lessened the need for many inmates to visit a courtroom.
Richardson accused Davis and Sheriff Alan Jordan of clouding the issue of costs associated with a remote jail.
According to impromptu calculations by Richardson, two vans and four deputies dedicated to transporting inmates from a remote jail to the courthouse would cost the county $360,000 per year.
Drawing out an equation on a dry-erase board in the commissioner’s meeting room, Richardson calculated how much money could be borrowed against the $360,000 he said transporting inmates to and from a remote jail would cost.
Chief Deputy Harry Meredith contested those figures, saying the Sheriff’s office could handle transporting inmates with existing personnel.
Jordan said his preference would be to build in a remote location that would house all of his operations in a central location while allowing for possible future expansion of the facility.
Jordan said the county’s judicial system is “hamstrung” because of the lack of jail space and that his office’s separation from the jail at the courthouse can pose problems for himself and deputies.
Commissioner Robert Cayton said the county would save money in the long run by planning with future needs in mind.