Facing a lawsuit over the Upstate county’s overcrowded jail, Pickens County Council has earmarked $23 million from its reserves toward construction of a new 322-bed facility.
According to the Greenville News, the action came during amendments made at third and final approval of the 2016-17 budget meeting this week. But the county stopped short of committing to building the facility, as recommended by a consultant.
Council Chairwoman Jennifer Willis said the vote does not commit the council to spending the $23 million for a jail, but only that that money cannot be used for anything else while the council decides what to do.
The proposed detention center would be three times as big as the current one, which was designed to hold up to 91 inmates and has been housing more than twice that many. The overcrowded conditions sparked a fight in April that sent two inmates to the hospital and charges against eight others. One of the injured inmates filed a lawsuit against the county in response.
Interim County Administrator Tom Hendricks told the newspaper that the county would have to sign a contract before proceeding with any further action on a new jail.