Multi-million dollar jail wing still empty after years of completion

New jail wing still empty one year after Live 5 News investigation

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - One year after a Live 5 News investigation, the second and third floors of a new wing at the Berkeley County jail are still empty

The wing was built about four years ago for $10 million.

Sheriff Wayne DeWitt says county council didn't have the money last year to hire officers to staff the second floor.

The sheriff is asking for the money again this year.

"In a nutshell, what we need right now to get on the second floor would be 16 additional positions and detention officers," DeWitt said.

Dewitt says it would cost about $800,000 to pay for those officers.

"Hopefully they won't have to raise taxes. That's something I'm not a proponent of and I'm sure the citizens aren't."

In a telephone interview, county council public safety committee chairman Ken Gunn said right now the money isn't available.

But Gunn says something has to be done to alleviate the overcrowding at the jail.

DeWitt agrees.

"I can't stress again, looking at the safety of our detention officers number one, and number two, safety of the inmates because what we have there mostly are pretrial inmates who are presumed innocent until proven guilty," the sheriff explained.

DeWitt pointed out Berkeley County is the fastest growing county in South Carolina.

He says a growing population means a growing jail population for the new wing.

"We're going to fill that facility very soon. The problem now is why you are here, is to get proper staffing so we can go ahead and move into it," DeWitt said.

The sheriff planned to make a presentation to the council committee Tuesday night. The county's new budget year begins July 1.

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