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The Beaufort County jail will get $46,000 to build more bathroom facilities in its gym, which doubles as an overflow room when there is an influx of inmates.
The Beaufort County Detention Center has remained below its 255-inmate capacity since 2009, but director Philip Foot asked the Public Facilities Committee on Tuesday to grant the money to prepare for a worst-case scenario.
"You just never know from one day to the next what's going to happen. I might get 10 to 15 people in tonight just because," Foot said. He hoped to get the work done before summer, as the warmer months usually bring a rise in crime.
"This is just a great time of the year (to do the work) because summer is fixing to come, and usually gets kicked off with St. Patty's Day and doesn't stop until winter."
The population peaked in 2008 whenthe jail had 469 inmates. The gym, which has one toilet and sink, held 46 men.
"We have a unit where all the males go when they first come in, but that unit is only so big and can only take so many people," he said. "When that unit is backed up, we go to the gym."
The money would pay for converting a storage room into a space with two toilets, a urinal trough, two sinks and a four-person shower area.
South Carolina's minimum standards for local detention centers are one shower per eight inmates and one toilet per 12, according to the jail's request.
The committee unanimously approved the funding. County administrator Gary Kubic said he expects the project to be completed within 90 days.
Projects approved by a committee that cost less than $50,000 do not require County Council's approval.
Follow reporter Anne Christnovich on Twitter at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo