BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Berkeley County is struggling to adequately staff the detention center. The county says that so far this year, it has lost over half of the staff that works with inmates in the housing unit.
“We have not had this many openings before and people are just not applying for jobs,” says Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis.
As the Hill-Finklea Dentention Center is struggling to hire 15 detention center workers, the county is adding sign on bonuses in hopes of attracting more employees.
“We’re gonna get through it we just got to get some people hired,” says Sheriff Lewis.
The sheriff’s office says that this year, the jail has lost 29 line officers and 18 of those have been lost just since July. During that same time period, the jail only received eight applications and only five of those applicants were hired. Sheriff Lewis says this is an issue he had never seen until the pandemic hit.
“We have about 15 openings and when you have 70 people working inside the detention facility, 15 is an impact,” he says.
To help with this hiring struggle, Berkeley County Council approved a $20,000 incentive program that would offer a $500 dollar sign on and recruitment bonus.
“That’s just a way to reward the efforts of the employees to go out there and try to find good people. It also incentivizes more people to come work for us,” Sheriff Lewis says.
There are a variety of positions open at the detention center from guarding the front gates, to helping inmates inside the detention center.
“There are jobs that make sure the inmates are at their medical facilities, people making sure meals are being distributed properly, and ensuring the safety of inside the detention center,” Sheriff Lewis says.
Sheriff Lewis says the money is a plus, but the atmosphere is the real attraction.
“We strive to be treated fairly and give them the best tools necessary to do their job. I know it may not always be the best pay, but I promise folks that they are treated well,” he says.
You can view all vacant positions online.