SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - A new detention center in Dorchester County is expected to open within the next 18 months, authorities say.
Officials broke ground on the $23.5 million project Monday morning on a piece of land on Hodge Road in Summerville.
Officials say the current jail in St. George is outdated and not in compliance with state standards.
The new jail will house up to 352 inmates and eventually will be expanded to hold up to 500 inmates.
"We've reached the point given just the huge increase in population, it's put a real strain on our present jail," Dorchester County Council Chairman Bill Hearn said.
Dorchester County Sheriff L.C. Knight said the old jail in St. George is too small to keep the worst inmates away from the other ones.
"If you put what we call lambs in with the wolves, the lamb gets hurt, you get liability then," Knight said.
Knight also says most of the growth and crime in the county are now in the Summerville area, and that led county officials to select the location for the new facility.
"Putting the numbers together, it showed about 75 to 80% of our arrests were in the Summerville area, and this is where the jail needs to be."
Officials say when the new jail opens, both the St. George facility and the annex at Deming Way will be closed.