Future Dorchester County jail to relieve 'overcrowding problem'

Dorchester County residents concerned about new jail location

DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Monday night, seven Dorchester County council members voted unanimously to approve an $18 million dollar bond to start a new jail project in the county. The need for a new jail comes from a current inmate overcrowding problem in Dorchester County.

The future Dorchester County jail is expected to be located off Hodge Road in an industrial area, off Deming Way and Highway 78, which is less than two miles from the county's current judicial complex, sheriff's office, and jail annex.

County Council Chairman Larry Hargett says it will big enough to house 350 inmates, and when it is built, the jail annex on Deming Way will close. He says that will save county taxpayers about $500,000 a year.

At the meeting, Dorchester County Sheriff L.C. Knight says overcrowding at the jail annex and at the main jail in St. George has been a problem for years.

"The county is still growing," said Knight. "If we build a jail now it's most probably good for 25-30 years. So I think it's good decision that the council's made."

Knight said the jail in St. George is built to hold slightly more than 150 inmates. However, the Sheriff said his deputies are moving at least 200 people through the doors a day.

Knight says the Sheriff's office started talking to council about the issue two years ago. Monday, was the first step to the future.

Now Knight says it's time to raise the money to get the project rolling.

Before the council meeting, Live 5 News talked to future residents of the jail and one resident said the thought of a jail so close to his home and children is frightening.

"Kind of scares me," said Mark Parker. "I have four young kids, four small kids at the house. That's going to be awful close to my kids. It really scares me."

County officials hope construction of the new jail will start by late spring or summer of next year. If all deadlines are hit on time, Sheriff Knight said the move in date may be three years away.

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