Dorchester County jail near capacity as inmates wait hundreds of days for court date

Published: May. 29, 2019 at 8:28 PM EDT
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DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Several inmates have been in the Dorchester County Detention Center for hundreds of days as they wait for a trial, causing the jail to teeter on the verge of full capacity for the last several months.

Dorchester County Sheriff L.C. Knight said the jail’s capacity, according to state code, is 266 inmates. Knight said the jail currently has 260 inmates, which is where the number of inmates has remained for the last four or five months.

Knight attributed the large number of inmates to the rapid growth in Dorchester County, which inevitably brings more people and crime to the area.

A list of the 30 inmates who have been waiting at the Dorchester County jail the longest shows one person has been at the jail for more than 1,070 days.

The last person on that list of the top 30 inmates has been waiting for a court date for more than 351 days.

“Everybody is bogged down,” Knight said. “I think the solicitor’s office, the public defender’s office, the court system as a whole--I think they’re underfunded.”

Charges on that list include murder, sexual exploitation of a minor, domestic violence and more.

“To feed them every day, to take care of their medical problems every day, it gets expensive on the taxpayer," Knight said.

Despite the jail remaining near capacity for several months, Knight said the jail has had very few problems with increased violence in the jailhouse.

“You can’t put 260 people in a building and not have some disturbances, but it’s been minimal,” Knight said.

Knight said he hopes the state can provide more funding to the courts so more inmates can be moved through the jail to clear space for other people.

The jail in Dorchester County was built a little more than two years ago.

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