The Beaufort County Jail-Finally Some Good News | Beaufort County Now | A report giving the number of prisoners held by Beaufort County and their location, whether in Beaufort County or other jails, is included in each monthly Commissioners agenda package.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

The Beaufort County Jail-Finally Some Good News

    A report giving the number of prisoners held by Beaufort County and their location, whether in Beaufort County or other jails, is included in each monthly Commissioners agenda package. Prisoners held out of county cost us about $50.00 per day. The cost is about the same for in county prisoners. During the past few years we have been having more than a 100 prisoners per day. This year's jail budget is 2.1 m million dollars to house our non productive element of society in Beaufort County.

    The jail report for the December 2020 meeting showed that we had 42 prisoners and only two prisoners out of county. My first thought was the report was incomplete. However, a check revealed that the report was accurate. What caused this huge reduction in jail population?

    A few years ago there was a great cry from several liberal commissioners and the uninformed public for Beaufort county to build a new, larger and more efficient jail. We are permitted by the state to house 87 prisoners in our present jail at the court house. Their proposal was to house at least 200 prisoners at a cost of 25 million dollars to build the new jail. That cost is one million dollars per year just for interest. A lot of other expenses would go up too.

    Large empty jails empower judges and the sheriff. If there are empty cells, any citizen can easily be ordered to jail or arrested and jailed. On the other hand, if the jail is full, alternatives to jail have to be considered. Sort of like, if you build a big jail, these guys are going to fill it up. Like Parkinson's Law: Build it and they will come.

    I took the position that the facility we have was mismanaged, in many ways. There were no answers as to why so many people were in jail. Basically the issue was "What is the justification for locking all of these people up". As usual the Sheriff had no answers. The Judges had no answers. The District attorney had no answers, although to his credit Seth Edwards did work hard to bring some of these inmates to trial who had been languishing in jail without a "speedy trial."

    Those of us who did not support spending more money to lock people up when there was no explanation or policy as to why we had so many people locked up, started looking for answers. There is no question that some people need to be held until trial because they were charged with violent crimes, or were flight risks. Looking at the jail roster with more than 100 people, there were only about 30 flight risks or violent criminals. What about the more than 100 other prisoners?

    The Committee for Better Government, along with volunteers and myself began looking for reasons. We found "the quick solution" to virtually every person in jail was to lock them up and sort things out later. Most times, much later. Beaufort County did not try to categorize arrests. Categories could be nonviolent crimes, mental health issues, child custody cases and speedy trials for prisoners. Some cases were slow being called because of jam ups in the state crime laboratory and there was no policy on using outside laboratories.

    What happened then was the great coronavirus scare. Almost the entire slate of Democrat rulers, from the Governor right on down, panicked. There were visions of jails full of people suffering from the coronovirus, dying or shipped out to hospitals for taxpayer expense. All of these people (Democrats in the case of the State of North Carolina) got together to figure out how to reduce jail populations and still provide protection to the public. The Governor, the Attorney General, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, our local Judges and District Attorney are all Democrats. Thank you, Democrats, for proving Beaufort County conservative Republicans to be correct.

    Yes, they deserve credit because they proved they had been doing such a poor job until their backs were put to the wall.

    The result of all of their work was to make the system very efficient and to empty the jails. In Beaufort County we are still saddled with one third of jail population, 14 people, charged with serious crimes. But our current jail is obviously sufficient to house these cases. These people have been housed by us for from six month to two years. These cases cannot go forward until the courts are fully opened.

    Chief Justice Cheri Beasley closed the courts again until her term is up in January. However, we will have a new Chief Justice, Republican Paul Newby, beginning in January. Hopefully he will open the courts and we can try these long term cases. Those convicted of serious crimes will be sent to the State Prison system and those not convicted will be set free. Either way the taxpayers win.

    Another big win in the reduction in prisoners proves we never needed a new jail in the first place. The present jail is approved by the State of North Carolina. It was completely modernized during 2020. We still have people who think the jail is not approved by the State and is in bad condition. To them, I say "Call the sheriff and ask for a jail tour before you continue to spread your false information. Ask to review the State Jail Inspection reports. If you do not get a tour, give me a call. I want to know about it.

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( January 5th, 2021 @ 5:48 pm )
Good point Countrygirl1411.
( January 5th, 2021 @ 5:37 pm )
Wonder how many of those that have had their trial's delayed because of a virus will try to use the 6th Amendment to the US Constitution to have it everything thrown out.

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