The new jail is right next to the old one and cost more than $8 million to build. But Sheriff Hubert Peterkin is looking forward to seeing the dollars starting to flow into his county instead of out of it now that he has extra space.
"Over the last year we spent almost $800,000 paying other counties to keep our overflow," Peterkin said. "The year before that, which was 2007, we was over $600,000 and the year before that, it's been at least a half-a-million for the past several years --at least a half million."
He'll no longer have to pay to house prisoners elsewhere, and neighboring Cumberland County makes extra money by taking prisoners from Fort Bragg and other agencies. Peterkin plans to start doing the same type of thing.
The county will also save money on gas. Some of the current inmates are housed in jails near the coast and have to be transported back and forth for court dates.
The new jail has all the latest gadgets to keep inmates and detention officers safe.
"If we need to open up every single door, we can with just the push of a button," Peterkin said. "We can let the inmates out at the same time. And we also have an overflow outside fenced in that we will be able to let them out in the yard, if they need to get outside of the building."
The old jail has a history of inmates breaking out. The sheriff says that won't happen at the new jail.
"This is pretty much like a small prison," he said. "We call it a jail, but it's set up pretty much on a prison type concept. So the liability of them breaking out in the old facility was very high."
The jail was supposed to open last fall, but construction delays have pushed the opening to later this month. The sheriff's office also has to train its jail staff on how to use the new building.