A new work group might come up with creative alternatives to jail time for some local inmates, Orange County Commissioner Barry Jacobs suggested Tuesday.
The county commissioners will discuss forming a group, similar to the recent Orange County Emergency Services Work Group, at a future meeting.
The work group should “harness the energies and creativity" of judges, the district attorney, public defenders and other criminal justice officials, Jacobs said.
The Council of State also agreed Tuesday to let the county lease seven to eight acres at $1 for 50 years at the state's Orange Correctional Center on Old N.C. 86.
The county plans to build a 250-bed jail for roughly $30 million to replace the existing jail, built across from the downtown courthouse in 1925.
The current jail holds 129 inmates and does not have designated space for female inmates. Jail officials said it has age-related plumbing and maintenance issues.
Chief District Court Judge Joe Buckner told the commissioners in September that a new jail could help local courts function more efficiently, while giving court officials and inmates a place to meet and talk about cases and plea bargains. It also would relieve years of overcrowding.
Alternative sentencing options could include home detention, special services for homeless repeat offenders, and increased use of the county’s drug and community resource courts, Jacobs said.