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Wake Sheriff Asks County Commissioners For More Funding

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Wake County's sheriff wants county commissioners to shell out more than $3 million for new detention officers to ease overcrowding at the county jail.

On any given day, more than 250 inmates sleep on the floor at the Wake County Jail. A few miles away at the county's Hammond Road Annex, 200 beds are empty.

"This place has never been staffed, the staff that are working here today are overtime staff from the public safety center," jail director Frank Gunter said.

"I was always asking the question, 'Why do we have 200 beds empty at Hammond Road when we have 200-some people on the floor?' Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said.

Harrison said he needs 70 detention officers to staff the annex. County commissioners would need to approve money. Up to now they have been reluctant to fund the new positions because of 40 vacancies at the jail the previous administration could not fill. As of last week, Harrison filled all of the vacancies.

"We've been blessed. We've got over 300 applications -- over 370 a matter of fact," Harrison said.

"Now, we need to fully fill that Hammond Road facility and if we have to hire staff to do it, then we're going to have to do it," said Herb Council, chairman of the Wake County county commissioners.

A new government study shows jail are filling up nearly twice as fast as the national average. The inmate population rose 5.2 percent last year to nearly 33,000 inmates. The national increase was 2.8 percent. More than 2 million inmates are in federal and state prisons.


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