Tension high at jail committee meeting

Published 11:06 pm Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sparks flew Tuesday night at the special committee meeting tasked with solving the problem of the Beaufort County jail.
Beaufort County Commissioner Hood Richardson squared off against, at turns, Sheriff Alan Jordan, Commissioner Jerry Langley (committee chairman) and the architects, Moseley Architects, regarding jail size, cost, number of floors, location and current jail population and current structural soundness of the building that
houses the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
“I’m going to see to it that y’all don’t mess this jail up,” Richardson said to the committee.
In addition to Jordan, Langley and Richardson, District Court Judge Michael Paul, District Attorney Seth Edwards, Commissioner Al Klemm, jail administrator Capt. Catrena Ross, sheriff’s office Chief Deputy Kit Campbell and County Manager Randell Woodruff met with Moseley officials. The meeting rehashed some elements of the last committee meeting in October, in which three options for a new Beaufort County Detention Center were presented. The third option drew out a plan — plan C — for a new facility on 25 acres of land in an undetermined location. Tuesday’s fourth option was a revision of plan C.
“We went back and devised another option that included all the concerns addressed in the last meeting,” said Todd Davis, Moseley’s director of criminal justice planning and development.
Option C.1 allows for a single level facility with 260-288 beds, a core facility (kitchen, laundry, storage, etc.) that can handle an expanded population of 350 inmates, but no new sheriff’s office facilities, unlike option C.  The difference in cost between the two plans in an estimated $5 million. Option A’s estimated cost is $33 million; option B’s, $28 million. Both option A and B, if built, would be located in a multistory building behind the existing courthouse in Washington. Both include an estimated $5 million for a parking deck.
Resolved, was the committee’s decision to have a look at the actual cost of transporting prisoners to and from court if the jail is built out of town, and that a new jail would have to include video conferencing capabilities between judges and inmates making first court appearances, regardless of location.
The issue will be addressed again at the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners’ Board Retreat on Feb. 14 and 15.