Just months after they voted to slashed funding for schools, Mecklenburg County commissioners agreed Tuesday to move forward with plans to build a new 1,700-bed jail.

The detention center could cost taxpayers as much as $240 million and further limit school construction, commissioners say.

Supporters say the jail is needed to relieve overcrowding in current facilities. At times, hundreds of inmates are forced to sleep on the floor. County leaders say they hope part of the jail will be ready as early as 2014.

Plans for the jail are sure to renew the classic debate: Is government money better spent on books or prisons.

Commissioner Dumont Clarke was quoted in the Charlotte Observer as saying the cost of building the jail “is going to make it much more difficult, really almost impossible, for us to build schools at the same rate that we were hoping to do and other needed government facilities.”

Commissioners voted 6-2 to proceed. Democrats Dan Murrey and Vilma Leake voted no.

Read more at Charlotteobserver.com.


(Photo: Mecklenburg County)

Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners: (pictured left to right)
Front row: Vilma Leake (District 2), Harold Cogdell, Jr. (Vice-Chairman, At-Large),
Jennifer Roberts (Chairman, At-Large), Dan Murrey (At-Large), Karen Bentley (District 1). Back Row: George Dunlap (District 3), Dumont Clarke (District 4),
Bill James (District 6), Neil Cooksey (District 5).

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