Third floor of Berkeley County Jail opens six years after it was built

Third floor of Berkeley County Jail opens six years after it was built

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The third floor of the Berkeley County Detention Center opened Monday, six years later than originally planned.

County officials held an opening ceremony and tour of the floor Monday morning.

Officials blamed the delay on a lack of manpower to staff the 64-bed dorm.

"The facility was here, we just did not have enough correctional officers to manage it under state guidelines," Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis explained.

Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler says $275,000 was approved in this year's budget to hire eight additional detention officers.

The vacant third floor was a hot button issue during the last campaign for sheriff.

Many citizens said their tax dollars had not been spent wisely by building additions to the jail before they could be staffed.

Peagler says taxpayers have a right to be angry.

"Obviously this is a situation where we had an asset, we didn't use it. As a result we had more lawsuits for inmates being harmed, officers being harmed."

A Live 5 News investigation in 2013 revealed the second floor of the jail was not being used because there were not enough officers to staff that floor.

The second floor finally opened in 2014.

Peagler says because both floors were vacant for so long, the warranty on the equipment expired.

He says that means taxpayers are on the hook if anything breaks.

"We own it and we're responsible for it," Peagler said.

Jail officials say even with the third floor now open, the jail will still be above capacity, but not as overcrowded.

Jail administrator Randy Demory says Sunday night the facility was 46 percent over capacity but is expected to be 14 percent over capacity Monday night.

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