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Guilford County jail celebrated with ribbon-cutting
The new Guilford County jail has been a long time coming, Sheriff BJ Barnes told a crowd gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday. After almost two decades of planning, the largest construction project in the county’s history is complete, thanks in part to a voter-approved bond. The jail cost $115 million.
“When I started this project I had brown hair, and lots more of it,” the balding Barnes said. “What made this happen is you the citizens.”
Guilford County Commission Chairman Skip Alston called the event bittersweet, and said it was “a day I had hoped the county would never celebrate.” While lauding the over 20 percent MWBE participation in the project, Alston said the county needed alternatives to incarceration.
“Let’s hope that this will be the last jail that Guilford County will ever have to build,” he said.
Barnes agreed that the jail should not be the end all, saying he supported programs to reduce recidivism. While his first goal is security, Barnes said the goal should be to have inmates leave the jail better than when they went in, but said it depended on the inmates themselves.
Commissioner Paul Gibson said the jail was necessary because of overcrowding in the current jail, adding that 85 out of 100 North Carolina counties either recently completed new jails or will soon.
“It was an inhumane place to warehouse people,” Gibson said. “The challenge is to create programs to keep people from coming in and from coming back.”