Local News

Granville Commissioners Court Help To Ease Jail Overcrowding

Posted May 28, 2003 9:12 a.m. EDT

— Many county jails are overcrowded and costly.

To help to ease the cost of housing inmates, Granville County commissioners are putting pressure on their district attorney to prosecute cases more quickly.

The Granville County jail is designed to hold 80 inmates; Tuesday, the count was 99.

"The overcrowding of the jail is a big cost to our budget," said W.E. Averette, county board chairman.

Averette wants district attorney Sam Currin to do what he has done in neighboring Vance County -- add more court sessions and personnel to prosecute cases more quickly.

"We're hoping that he can give us some relief, to get some of them out of jail and get them processed," Averette said.

But Currin said of the four counties in his district, none compare to Vance County's case backlog.

"Vance County has a case load that is as great as the other three counties combined," he said.

On Tuesday, after waiting in the Vance County jail for 18 months, Michael Pettaway was found not guilty in the May 2001 murder of store owner Abdo Moharam. The average wait for murder cases in North Carolina is close to one year.

Granville County has one defendant who has waited in jail for 14 months, but Currin said the county is unlikely to get more help in court.

"I think that the jail, unfortunately, needs to be bigger," he said.

Granville County will spend $355,000 to expand the jail this year, but will only add seven beds for women.

Money is tight in the county coffers and in the District Attorney's Office.

"We're trying to do the very best we can with what we have," Currin said.

The Vance County Jail currently has only three beds for female detainees and no space for female juveniles, who are typically transferred to facilities Person or Franklin counties.