Local News

SBI Investigates Cumberland Jail Allegations

Posted July 8, 2003

— An investigation into several Cumberland County jailers could take weeks to finish. The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether jailers smuggled contraband for inmates and had sex with them.

The high-tech Cumberland County Jail has been open just six months. Under a direct supervision concept, a jailer constantly monitors inmates from inside the pod.

Now, two female jailers who work in a male felony pod are accused of smuggling in contraband and possibly having sex with some of the men.

"The facility is a safe facility. If you can't trust the detention officers who are the only ones in contact with these people, you've got problems and we've got problems," Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler said.

The allegations are just the latest of problems for the new jail. In fact, problems started before the facility even opened.

First, officials were faced with not having enough money to run the jail. Then, within the first months of operation, there were two suicides. One of the men who killed himself was

William Clark Wright Jr.

, a Fort Bragg soldier accused of murdering his wife.

In February, the jail's health service program was put on probation. Now, officials are faced with possible criminal behavior among staff.

"We've had several problems at the jail, but I'll say this. We deal with our problems," Butler said.

Butler said he stands by the screening process for new guards. He emphasizes jailers are sworn deputies, who have to pass psychological tests and background checks. Still, the sheriff is putting restrictions on all jailers even though just a few may be to blame.

"We learn from mistakes," he said.

The two jailers at the center of the investigation have been suspended with pay. The sheriff says more could be implicated, but he does not think the SBI probe will expand beyond a handful of his employees.


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