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Bladen Commissioners Approve Inmate Housing Programs

Bladen County commissioners on Monday approved an agreement with the U.S. Marshal’s Office to house up to 50 federal inmates at the Bladen County Detention Center and gave permission for the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office to work with the N.C. Juvenile Justice System to house more juveniles charged with crimes.

Commissioners held their regularly scheduled semimonthly meeting in the Bladen County Courthouse.

North Carolina’s “Raise the Age” law takes affect Dec. 1. The law, passed in 2017 as part of the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, will raise the age of criminal responsibility in most cases from 16 to 18. The change in law has left the state seeking ways to house most 16- and 17-year-olds arrested beginning Dec. 1 in juvenile centers without building new facilities.

Jim Speight (pictured above, center) of the N.C. Juvenile Justice System explained the program to the board. Juveniles are held for a limited time while awaiting the next step in their case, he said. Bladen County will be paid $244 per day per non-Bladen County detainee for use of the facility. The payment for a Bladen County person will be $122 per day per person.

Sheriff Jim McVicker told the board that some minor work will need to be done at the detention center such as adding fencing and pod work in order to keep the juveniles separated from the adult population.

McVicker also said the Sheriff’s Office would have to hire additional staff and each deputy would have to undergo up to four weeks of training to work in the juvenile wing. The state would pay for the training. McVicker said the county plans to house up to 21 juveniles. McVicker hoped to begin housing juveniles by March.

U.S. Marshal Mike East, right, addresses the Bladen County Board of Commissioners on Monday as Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker listens.

U.S. Marshal Mike East met with the board regarding the Federal Inmate Housing Program. The U.S. government will pay Bladen County $75 per day to house federal inmates. McVicker said Bladen County plans to house 40 male and 10 female federal inmates at the outset of the program in three to four weeks.

“By doing this, we’re helping the feds out, we’re helping the state out and bringing revenue into Bladen County,” McVicker said after addressing the commissioners.

McVicker said that prior to the opening of the new detention facility two years ago that Bladen County was spending $96,000 per year to have inmates housed at out-of-county facilities. Today, McVicker said, the Bladen facility is housing inmates from Pender, Duplin and Halfax counties.

In other matters, the board,

** Adopted resolutions requesting Morganwood Estates Drive, Old Hickory Lane, Westwood Drive and Westwood Circle be added to the state-maintained secondary road system.

** Declined a $6,000 bid for county-owned property at 2555 Bladen Union Church Road.

** Approved a month-to-month lease agreement with Horne, LLP.

** Approved required forms and documentation regarding a CDBG-DR Grant Award related to a Bladenboro drainage study.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the lower level assembly room of the Bladen County Courthouse.

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