An agenda item on Tuesday’s 9 a.m. Cleveland County Board of Commissioners meeting lists “discussion, consideration and/or action regarding possible or potential suggestions, ideas, uses or dispositions for the old jail facility.”
We don’t expect the three commissioners to take any action just yet. But this is a good time to get input from other county officials, judges, the sheriff, the jail sales tax oversight committee, members of the county bar and the public on the best possible uses for the vacant jail.
The facilty, opened in 1984, became empty a week ago when deputies transferred about 300 inmates to the new F. DeWayne Beggs Detention Center on Franklin Road. District 1 Commissioner Rod Cleveland believes the county could opt to build an office building expansion with a jail holding area.
As it stands now, county prisoners are being brought in twice each day, held in jury rooms and other public areas of the courthouse. If the prisoner’s hearing is before lunch, they come in the morning. If it’s afternoon hearing, they come and stay all afternoon.
The current procedure could pose a potentially dangerous situation. The 2009 courtroom stabbing of a deputy sheriff by a defendant should be a reminder of the possibilities.
We’re not against knocking the jail down and building something to accommodate the prisoners and provide for growth in county office space. The discussion on what is needed as well as how to pay for it needs to be all inclusive. Tuesday’s meeting will be a good start.