Local News

New Cumberland County Jail Remains Unused

Posted July 2, 2002 5:24 a.m. EDT

— People in Fayetteville have watched Cumberland County's new jail go from a pile of dirt to a new building, but three years later, it still remains unused.

"Do something with it. Don't just let it sit there and waste people's money," resident Kim Holder said.

"It's a matter of which priority do we need to be addressed first," resident Kenneth Fox said.

Cumberland County's old jail is packed beyond capacity. It has 288 beds, but at times, as many as 400 prisoners are stacked in the jail.

"It's still a very tight situation up there. We have people on the floor and anytime you got people sleeping on the floor it creates problems," Cumberland County sheriff Earl Butler said.

The new jail will have twice as many beds, but Sheriff Butler said it may be at least another six months before it opens. Budget and construction problems have stalled progress.

"When you change contractors in the end of a job, it creates more problems," he said. "If it were open today, it would relieve us of a lot of headaches.

The original contractor, Miller Building Corporation, backed out of the project because of bankruptcy. A county hiring freeze put a halt on the number of employees needed to staff the new jail.

Butler said construction should be finished this summer and hopes to open a portion of the jail this fall.

Butler said he wants to move into the new jail as soon as possible because he is concerned about the safety of his jailers. He said overcrowding can lead to fights among inmates and deputies getting hurt.