Jail overcrowding has plagued Pender County for years. A land transfer could be part of a solution.

Jail overcrowding has plagued Pender County for years. A land transfer could be part of a solution.

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Pender County leaders on Monday are expected to consider taking the first step towards solving a persistent problem in the county jail: overcrowding.

In the past year, the Pender County Sheriff’s Office has had to transport more than 1,000 inmates to other facilities due to cramped quarters in the detention center. Nearly 1,605 man hours went into the 725 transports, which resulted in almost 78,591 miles traveled across the state, according to material included in the agenda packet for Monday’s Pender County Board of Commissioners meeting.

The issue has been a costly one for taxpayers. Since at least the 2013-14 fiscal year, the county has spent around $500,000 annually to move inmates to other jails.

But building a new facility presents its own challenges. County commissioners previously estimated a new jail would cost several million dollars to build, and a large enough piece of land would need to be secured.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety and State of North Carolina own approximately 350+ acres north of the Town of Burgaw where the Pender Correctional Center currently sits. (Source: Pender County)
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety and State of North Carolina own approximately 350+ acres north of the Town of Burgaw where the Pender Correctional Center currently sits. (Source: Pender County)

A proposed solution for the latter: the transfer of approximately 100 acres of state-owned property, located just north of the Town of Burgaw, to the county.

Representative Carson Smith, who served as sheriff of Pender County for 16 years before winning the N.C. House District 16 seat last year, requested the board of commissioners pass a resolution requesting a local bill for the transfer. The board is set to consider the resolution during its meeting Monday afternoon.

Should commissioners pass the resolution and a bill be approved by the General Assembly, the transfer would come at no cost to the county. Detailed costs for a new jail have not yet been discussed, a county spokesperson said in an email on Friday.

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