New jail to relieve crowded facility

July 8, 2008 5:32:24 PM PDT
A new Hoke County jail is the talk of the town.

Overcrowding in the old jail forces many inmates to sleep on mattresses on the floor.

It's a dangerous situation, but the new jail can hold twice as many inmates so everyone is looking forward to the new facility when it opens.

The new facility is being built next door to the old one. It's a state-of-the art pod facility that features direct supervision of inmates.

The new jail costs $8.5 million to build. Sheriff Hubert Peterkin says it's worth every penny.

Right now Hoke County is dishing out thousands of dollars to other counties to house its overflowing inmate population.

"But it has cost this county anywhere from $700,000 to $800,000 per year paying other counties to house our people," Peterkin said.

In the new jail, the sheriff has enough space to separate inmates based on the severity of their crimes. For example, inmates charged with misdemeanors or non-violent crimes can be housed in one pod.

"We'll have felons in another pod," Peterkin said. "So we'll be able to classify them and we'll know which ones are high-risk. So that's going to work for us on the direct supervision."

The old jail has been tough to manage. Five inmates have escaped since 2003. The sheriff says the indirect supervision of the old jail puts his detention center staff at risk. Especially, it there's an emergency like a fire.

Peterkin explained how a detention officer has to go to each section, one corridor at a time, and open each section with a key. "He'd have to risk his life...if its an emergency," he said.

The Sheriff says contractors are actually ahead of schedule. The new jail will be finished next month, but the Sheriff will spend 60 days after it's complete, training his staff before any inmates are moved.


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