By Sheriff Austin Swing’s own admission, there have been several incidents at the Bedford County Jail over the last few months.
He’s had to deal with everything from inmates starting fires, to inmates smuggling in drugs and makeshift weapons.
But now, Swing says the county is on the road to solving those problems, as plans for a new jail develop. The five member Courthouse and Property Committee, made up of some members of the Bedford County Commission, recommended the construction of a jail that can hold 400 inmates. Central to that design, would be a Justice center that would be combined and built with the jail.
The decision to add the justice center to the jail would cost more, potentially bringing the cost of construction to anywhere between $26 million to $29 million.
The sheriff says while he doesn't have a vote in the matter, it's reasonable to assume property taxes would have to be increased to pay for it, if another income source isn't found. He says the incidents at the jail over the last few months all stem from overcrowding.
“We're just at a point now where we're just trying to survive,” Swing said. “It's not only dangerous for the staff but it’s dangerous for the inmates. It's a disaster and -- I’m afraid -- a disaster waiting to happen, and certainly we don't want that.”
The full board of commissioners still has to make the final approval for the jail.