New jail in jeopardy as Pickens County looks to fill critical detention officer positions

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PICKENS Co., SC (WSPA) – The new Pickens County jail, which is scheduled for completion in a few weeks, may not open as planned.

According to Sheriff Rick Clark, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office is having major problems staffing the $25 million-dollar facility with detention officers.

23 detention officer positions still need to be filled in order to get the facility up and running properly.

“It’s going to be a tough fight to get the people we need hired here at the Sheriff’s Office,” Clark said Wednesday.

The jail, which has been under construction for about 2 years, has been a necessity for the county which has often dealt with overcrowding and escaped inmates from their old detention center and stockade.

Clark told 7-News that the issue stems primarily from their inability to offer detention officers a competitive salary, as compared to nearby counties.

“We’re starting at about $32,000,” he explained. “Oconee County starts at about $35,000 and Greenville’s starting pay can be about $40,000, so you can see what a deficit that puts us at.”  

In some cases, Clark said he’s already had several potential hires leave and go to other counties in order to make more money. 

He said he intends to go to Pickens County Council next week and ask for higher starting salaries, as well as fair compensation for longtime employees who have worked as detention officers throughout the transitional period. 

“That’s what this is all about, to take care of our people because they’ve been great. Put them up against anyone across the state or the nation of what they’ve done, over the past few years especially.”  

If the newly created positions aren’t filled in time, Clark expressed interest in having deputies work overtime to cover shifts at the jail.

The backup plan must be approved by the Department of Corrections in order for the jail to open.

For more information about applying for a detention officer position in Pickens County, click here.

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