Overcrowding at LEC

By: Domonique Benn
By: Domonique Benn

November 21, 2005
News 12 has learned Sheriff Ronnie Strength is fine-tuning a plan about how ankle bracelets will be used for low-risk offenders. It’s all to help alleviate inmate overcrowding at the Law Enforcement Center.

It’s a plan that could become reality in a couple of weeks. News 12 spoke with a former inmate who says the new ankle bracelets couldn’t come at a better time.

“Unless you seen it with your own eyes you wouldn’t believe it,” said David Nix, former inmate.

David Nix, a recently released inmate here at 4-0-1, describes the overcrowded conditions that he says is out of control.

“There is so many people on the floor you literally have to step over them,” Nix said.

Back in 2002 News 12 reported on overcrowded conditions at 4-0-1, inmates sleeping on the floor. Three years later the problem still exists.

“We desperately need a new facility and this one here needs to be shut down, it very unlivable,” Nix said.

Voters approved a new jail, but that will take a few years to build. And until then the sheriff is looking at a plan to use ankle bracelets.

While the ankle bracelet will help alleviate the overcrowded situation at the LEC, it has another benefit, it will cost less to monitor an inmate.

“What we hear now is it is costing about $42 a day to house in inmate at Walton Way or Phinizy Road,” said Crystal Paige.

Sentinel Office Manager Crystal Paige says the average cost of monitoring with the ankle bracelet is $9. That’s $30 a day less than the county pays to house the inmate.

“Basically we’re hearing the same situation that everybody else is hearing and it is over crowded and it’s a situation like I said that Sheriff Strength is taking seriously so we’re glad they decided to take this step,” Paige said.

“I think that would help the overcrowding of the jail and help people that have very simple crimes get out of jail cause there’s people in there that only need a few hundred dollars to get out and been in there for months,” Nix said.

And now jail administrators are hoping this small device could solve a big problem at 4-0-1.

Sheriff Strength is out of town and is not commenting on the issue at this time.

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