100-bed addition to Carroll County jail opens -- five months later than expected

November 04, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

The 100-bed addition at the Carroll County Detention Center was officially opened yesterday as state and local officials joined Lt. Col. George R. Hardinger, the warden, in a ribbon-cutting in Westminster.

Jail officials began moving inmates into the $6.1 million wing last week, taking occupancy of the annex five months after its expected completion.

The project was about eight years in planning and was delayed by design modifications, excavation problems, construction changes and equipment malfunctions.

Its opening was delayed last month when two new boilers failed a state inspection and a hot-water pump malfunctioned.

Yesterday, County Commissioners Julia Walsh Gouge, Donald I. Dell and Robin Bartlett Frazier and state Sen. Larry E. Haines picked up on a theme mentioned in Chaplain Gary Buchman's invocation: "This is a place where justice and mercy shall meet."

Haines recalled that in the 1950s the jail had five or six prisoners.

Yesterday's inmate population stood at 195, and Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning noted that the addition raises the jail's capacity to 244.

Haines said police officers once outnumbered violent-crime offenders 3.2-to-1.

Changes in society reflect a greater need for larger correctional facilities, he said.

"We now have one police officer for every 3.2 inmates convicted of a violent crime," he said.

Haines also expressed the need for minimum mandatory sentences, saying more than 63 percent of all criminals are repeat offenders.

Frazier said the added space will provide a certain comfort and convenience for jail staff, but "also for the men and women who must live here."

Some inmates might be friends or family members, "so we can appreciate the justice and mercy provided here," she said.

Hardinger acknowledged former sheriffs and wardens, past and current county officials and his staff.

"Now we are prepared for the 21st century, to meet the needs for public safety, which is the foundation of our society," he said.

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