Council chairman questions jail decision
Detention Center will house, temporarily, inmates from Newberry County
The Johnson Detention Center might come away from the deal with a renovated kitchen, but the chairman of Laurens County Council left no doubt he was annoyed about being uninformed of a deal that brings Newberry County inmates to the Laurens County jail.
Sheriff Don Reynolds said last Tuesday the $315,000 that his office expects to make from Newberry County is enough money to fund a much-needed kitchen renovation. He told the council that at some point, they’re just going to have to trust his judgment in making decisions about running the jail.
Newberry County needs somewhere for some of its inmates to be housed as pods at its jail are being renovated. Partnering with Laurens County means no long drives and no hotel stays for officers, who will be assigned to join with Laurens County jailers in guarding a larger inmate population.
Newberry County will pay the LCSO $25/day to house 35 inmates.
Wood said, “This could lead to some serious circumstances for our citizens and our detention center.”
Wood said the additional inmates will eat more than $25 per day in food. Reynolds said, “If you ask them (the current Laurens County inmates), they’ll probably say they get about $2 a day in food.”
The county council was not asked to vote on the contract. The agreement is solely at Reynolds’ discretion.
Wood said he did not like the back-channel way it was done. “The first I heard of this was at the Anderson Jockey Lot when somebody asked me about Laurens County housing Newberry County prisoners. I asked Mr. Caime and Mr. Cruickshanks, and found out Mr. Cruickshanks drew up the contract.”
Jon Caime is the County Administrator. Sandy Cruickshanks is the County Attorney.
“The State can’t do this?” Wood said.
Reynolds said yes, but the Laurens-Newberry contract specifies there will be no female inmates and no sentenced inmates transported to the Johnson Detention Center. Newberry County will assigned four officers on the day shift and three officers on the night shift to join with the Johnson DC staff.
Reynolds said cities are charged $35/day for the county to house inmates, but that is because the cities do not add personnel to the jail staff. The most the LCSO could charge would be $50/day, but that charge generally is reserved for larger jails, like Charleston, that have other amenities (ie, full-time infirmary).
The contract has a 30-day-notice opt-out clause. “If I see the thing going south,” Reynolds said, “I will pull the plug on it.”
Newberry County will start sending some inmates to the Johnson Detention Center some time after August 20, Reynolds said. Thirty-five is expected to be the average daily census coming over from Newberry County.
Wood said there will be general wear-and-tear and additional costs such as linen for the Johnson Detention Center. He said, “We have a vested interest because we added to this facility - at a cost of more than $6 million, I believe. We are having additional state mandates passed on to us, and we have to keep this population under control.”
Reynolds said the Newberry County inmates will not cause over-crowding at the Laurens County jail, and told the council, “The State’s risk-management man signed off on it.”
Newberry-Laurens already have a mutual housing agreement, under certain circumstances, and the counties use the same provider, Southern Health Partners. Newberry County inmates will have to wear piuctire
Reynolds said the contract is simply part of his office’s operations of the jail and its dealings with people in custody. He said policies are revamped all the time - for instance, an officers recently was injured during the transport of a mental patient so, from now on, all mental transports will be done with the patient in leg-irons.