11/23/05 — Consultant says Duplin needs jail

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Consultant says Duplin needs jail

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on November 23, 2005 1:48 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Duplin County is in need of a new jail, a consultant told Duplin County commissioners on Monday.

The county's existing jail is overcrowded, law enforcement and court officials say, and the commissioners are looking at ways to address the problem.

The existing jail was built in the 1970s to accommodate 95 prisoners, said Jim Brennan of Brennan Associates. The company was hired to examine Duplin's jail situation and make recommendations.

Brennan said the county property on which the jail is located is land-locked and too small to permit expansion.

Duplin currently has about 100 prisoners in its jail on any given day, Brennan said. But he told commissioners that the county could expect the jail population to increase to as much as 192 per day by the year 2030. The county needs to plan for a 300-bed jail, Brennan said, noting the need to keep inmates facing more serious charges away from the general jail population.

He recommended the building of a new jail on a new location. The existing jail and Sheriff's Office could be put to other uses, he added.

"The current jail building would be better used other ways," Brennan said.

He suggested that the county build a jail large enough to handle the expected increase in the number of inmates. He said that until the additional cells are needed to house county inmates, Duplin could house inmates from other counties and the state. The other agencies would have to pay Duplin to use its cell space and the money could help offset the cost of building the facility, Brennan said.

He said it would cost the county about $13 million to build a jail large enough to meet its future needs. The annual debt on the project would be about $848,000, he said

Brennan's usual fee is 7.5 percent of the construction cost. County Manager Fred Eldridge said that would mean the architect's fee would come to almost $1 million.

Eldridge said additional jail space is badly needed.

"I've been in both places," he told commissioners, referring to his experience with other county jails. "I have had to pay another county to house inmates, and I have had space for inmates from other counties."

Eldridge cautioned commissioners against counting on the income from taking on inmates from other places to help pay the debt service on the new jail. There's no guarantee, he said.