Bill regarding land transfer for Pender County jail passes unanimously in NC House

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

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Approximately 100 acres of property north of Burgaw could be transferred to Pender County and used to build a new jail if a bill is approved by the North Carolina Senate. The measure passed unanimously in the House on Thursday.

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 the Pender County Board of Commissioners’ March 18 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)

At its March 18 meeting, the board passed a resolution requesting a local bill for the transfer. The resolution was drafted by Representative Carson Smith, who served as sheriff of Pender County for 16 years before winning the N.C. House District 16 seat last year.

Should the bill ultimately 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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