The sheriff said the problems at the jail were weighing on the detention officers, who were already under a lot of pressure.
CHESTER COUNTY, SC – The Chester County Detention Center needs major repairs, according to a technical analysis presented to council. The problem: the estimated cost of repairs is nearly $4 million.
The prison houses approximately 90 inmates. Moseley Architectsan architectural firm in Charlotte, discovered major structural, plumbing and mechanical issues in the 50-year-old facility.
The original jail itself was built in the 1970s, and an addition to the jail was added in 2009. However, Sheriff Max Dorsey says there are already signs of major structural problems, even in the most recent part.
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“When I became sheriff in 2019, there were a lot of things we had to deal with,” he said. “One of those things was the state of the detention center. It was brought to my attention that structural problems were becoming apparent.
In addition to cracks in the walls and gaps in the floor, some of the cell doors get stuck because the building’s weight is distributed unevenly, Dorsey explained.
“As the building moves, everything else moves with it,” he said during a tour of the prison, “so some of these doors start to jam.”
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Dorsey said detention officers often get stuck working out solutions to problems, creating temporary solutions to keep things running.
Recreation halls often flood when there is heavy rain, so in one of the halls, detention officers created a makeshift dam at the door to prevent water from entering the building.
Moseley Architects presented a technical analysis to the Chester County Council. He showed that the repairs could cost around $4 million.
In an email to WNC CharlotteCounty Council member Pete Wilson said he was aware of the issues and wanted to see the county resolve the issues in the near future.
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“It’s no surprise, but funding these major needs will be a challenge,” Wilson said. “We are looking at all possible financing options at this time.”
Dorsey said building a new prison could cost around $40 million. To put that into perspective, Wilson said Chester County has a total annual budget of $25 million.
“We have a responsibility to taxpayers to make sure we spend our money appropriately,” Dorsey said. “Building a new jail would be a huge ticket for this county, and I don’t believe we’re in a position to do that right now. So first we need to explore all the options to repair this installation.
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Dorsey said the problems at the prison weighed on detention officers, who were already under a lot of pressure.
“They’re here with dangerous, accused felons — some of the most dangerous people in our state are housed here right now,” he said. “In addition to their safety and security, they have to deal with these other maintenance issues.”
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