Three-and-a-half weeks have gone by, and the inmates of the Beaufort County Jail are still being housed in other counties.
A meeting was held Monday night by the Beaufort County Commissioners to discuss the jail's status on making electrical repairs, after power outages lead to the jail being evacuated on June 8th.
To keep the prisoners in other counties, the county is spending around $3,700 per day, tallying up to close to $90,000 total so far.
A court order is requiring repairs to be made before the prisoners can return, but commissioner Hood Richardson told us he thinks Sheriff Alan Jordan is to blame for the maintenance issues in the facility, because he never fixed certain plumbing and electrical problems.
We spoke with Sheriff Jordan for his response. He said, "The sheriff is not the one, nor do my people go down there and make fiscal repairs. That's why the county has a maintenance department, they do that and they're in charge of the contracts coming down there."
Sheriff Jordan says he didn't see any maintenance workers in the jail on Monday.
Richardson says he hopes to have the inmates back in the jail by July 15th.
The commissioners did decide to install a backup generator to provide the jail with power in emergency situations.
The meeting between the Beaufort County Commissioners, Washington City Council and the sheriff to talk about the electrical problems that have had the jail closed since June 8th lasted twelve minutes.
Inmate relocation has gone on for ten days now since the power outage, and it has cost close to $40,000 so far. That's $52.00 a day for each of the seventy inmates, around $3,600 a day.
The county manager expects the jail to reopen in the next week or two once electrical repairs are made and a judge deems it to be safe.
We spoke with Commissioner Hood Richardson to see if these recent problems mean it's time for a new jail. He said, "It's a lot of people's opinions that we need a new jail. My opinion is we keep trucking with the jail we got and house prisoners in other counties, save the taxpayers about a million and a half a year."
One of the major concerns for the county is also transporting the prisoners to and from the courthouse, which will cost even more.
Beaufort County Commission Chairman Jerry Langley says there are still plans for a new jail, but only repairs to the current jail have been put into next year's budget.
The Beaufort County Commissioners are hosting a special meeting this evening about the county jail, which is currently closed.
A series of power outages forced the jail to send its inmates to other facilities more than a week ago, and it's been closed ever since. The Beaufort County Manager Randell Woodruff says it's up to a judge to decide whether the jail will reopen. That decision is expected by the end of this week.
Woodruff says smoke from a new clothing dryer caused the recent power outages.
The special meeting is at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Two separate power outages last week forced the evacuation of inmates. The jail remains closed.
The special meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 18th.
Sheriff Alan Jordan says this problem is just one of many for this 40 year old facility-- which he says is too hazardous for staff and the inmates inside.
The sheriff and county commissioner Hood Richardson have been at odds over building a new facility. Richardson says the county jail just needs repairs while the sheriff says they need to build a new facility.