New Quota System Causing More Overcrowding Problems at Beaufort County Jail - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/08/07

New Quota System Causing More Overcrowding Problems at Beaufort County Jail

Overcrowded jails, it's a problem that's impacting communities throughout the country. But a new state quota system is compounding the problem in Beaufort and costing tax payers more.

Jails, like the Beaufort County Detention Center are designed to hold inmates, waiting for trial, not sentenced prisoners. But, that's exactly what's been going on since the Department of Corrections implemented a new quota system in January. The jail can only send three prisoners a week.

"Sentenced prisoners are typically moved out in a relatively short amount of time into prison, where as now I've seen them backed up as far as a month," said Beaufort County Detention Center Director, Phil Foot.

Making an already overcrowded jail, even worse. With no cells to put prisoners in, officials turned the gym into temporary housing.

"We have anywhere from 20 to 30 inmates in an open area with no controls," said Foot. "Basically if something were to happen in there we have no way to put people into cells to secure them if there is a fight or a disturbance inside."

A dangerous situation for both inmates and guards.

"When you put more people into a smaller space people are going to get on people's nerves and people are going to tend to have fights and we see more disciplinary problems," said Foot.

While this may not seem like a problem that affects you, it's costing you and the other tax payers here in Beaufort County a lot of money.

For each day sentenced inmates stay at the county jail, you pay 55 dollars and that adds up, especially when it takes at least a month for the DOC to pick prisoners up.

"It certainly burdens the tax payers because the cost of running the facility is going to skyrocket because you have more people, more food service, more medical problems," said Foot.

Foot said the Department of Corrections has been trying to give them a break recently and has taken more of their prisoners. But the quota system is still in place and he says if something isn't done, they're going to be forced to expand the jail or build another one, and that could cost tax payers millions of dollars.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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