‘Medieval dungeon’: Partnership briefed on jail plans

Published 7:26 pm Monday, March 11, 2013

Beaufort County commissioner Al Klemm briefed the Workforce Partnership on the county’s initial plans for building a jail.
Partnership chairman Rocky Jacobs said the presentation would be helpful in diffusing misinformation.
“It’s to try to have some informed people so that if you hear a rumor that you know is not accurate you can say, ‘I heard a discussion and that’s not what they were talking about.’”
Klemm is a member of the partnership. In his presentation Monday, he explained the conditions of the current jail.
“Compared to a modern facility nowadays it really does look like a medieval dungeon,” Klemm said.
The jail is located in a flood zone. Whenever weather conditions threaten flooding, prisoners have to be moved.
The threat of a fire would produce its own form of chaos. Klemm said the only thing they could do if a fire erupted was open the doors and free the criminals, which include a couple of alleged murderers.
The commission’s jail committee includes Klemm, commissioners Jerry Langley and Hood Richardson. Also on the committee are Beaufort County Sheriff Alan Jordan, District Court Judge Michael Paul, District Attorney Seth Edwards, jail administrator Capt. Catrena Ross, sheriff’s office Chief Deputy Kit Campbell and County Manager Randell Woodruff.
Klemm admitted the commission’s error in omitting the city’s input by not including a city official on the committee.
He disagreed with the idea of spending extra money to build jail space for federal inmates.
The committee considered three locations outside the downtown area: a lot on State Highway 264 near the animal control facility, Chocowinity’s industrial park and their preferred location, Washington’s industrial park off Cherry Run Road.
“It’s a spot isolated from the rest of the industrial park and that is what I personally wanted members to understand,” said Jacobs.
Consultants recommended building on a lot that was 25 acres, but Klemm said the jail would not need that much space. He said the county would save about $15 million by building outside the downtown and save money on operational costs once the jail was completed.
Because commissioners have not voted to build a jail, Jacobs said it was too early in the process for the Workforce Partnership to take a position on the issue.