Publisher's Note: This article originally appeared in the Beaufort Observer.
So who says we "need a new jail?" Other than Alan Jordan and his cronies, that is.
Hood Richardson, by insisting on seeing the monthly jail census reports, has shown us beyond an reasonable shadow of a doubt (by a reasonable person) that the jail is seldom if ever over capacity according to state standards and then when it is it is because of poor case management more than anything else. So you can't use the hard data to justify a need for a larger jail.
So that leaves us with deciding whether we need a new jail because of the condition the fail is in.
We took a look at the other inspection reports we have available to us. That is the Health Department's inspections. The Health Department inspects the jail in accord with state standards for "living conditions." Interestingly, the same standards are used for "residential care" facilities. The system used assigns points for any deficiency in meeting the prescribed standards. For example, in the most recent inspection on March 15, 2013 the jail was marked down by 3 points because the floors needed cleaning and repainting.
All total the jail lost 14 points for failure to meet the state prescribed standards.
But it is interesting to look more closely.
Click here to review the report
. As you can see in the report all of the points, except in Violation #2, were routine maintenance and cleaning issues. And #2 was a matter of regular maintenance (painting).
When you look at the list of deficiencies one thing becomes glaringly obvious: Everything the inspection found wrong could be fixed for a lot less money than building a new facility. Everything. But the largest part of the violations are obviously maintenance and housekeeping items that good management would have taken care of.
When you compare the jail's report to the reports from the other "residential care" facilities
in the county a reasonable person has to reach the same conclusion: Our prisoners in the jail are as well off as our senior citizens in residential care facilities. That is, assuming the Sheriff managed the jail as well as other residential care facilities do.
So we leave you with this question: How can anyone honestly claim Beaufort County needs to spend $15-30 million on a new jail in the middle of the worst recession in our life times?
to go to the original source of the data.