Groundbreaking Held For New Johnston County Detention Center

SMITHFIELD – Local and state dignitaries were on hand Tuesday afternoon for the official groundbreaking of the new Johnston County Detention Center.  The facility is being constructed on Highway 70 just east of Interstate 95 near Yelverton Grove Road.

Smithfield Mayor Andy Moore said he was sad to see the jail move out of the courthouse in Downtown Smithfield but understood the need for a new detention center as the county continues to grow.  “I’m glad it won’t be built too far from Downtown Smithfield and our many businesses. It is state of the art and is badly needed.”   The mayor said he believes the detention center could spur additional development in the immediate area.

Dan Mace, vice president of Moseley Architects who designed the new detention center said, “We’ve worked with Johnston County almost 20 years to get to where we are today. These projects don’t pop up overnight.  Your sheriff has not left a stone unturned looking over this facility.  It is designed for the safety of staff, inmates and the public.”

Sheriff Steve Bizzell said public safety is the number one priority and hopes the new jail can be a place for inmates to turn their lives around, including those who are at a crossroads in their life.  He thanked commissioners for funding the project.

Due to current jail overcrowding, Commissioner Tony Braswell said Johnston County is spending $1 million a year to house inmates at jails in neighboring counties. Once the new detention center is opened, Johnston County will be able to house all their inmates.  Braswell said Sheriff Bizzell has been patient for many years as commissioners invested money in new school construction.

“The sheriff has always been very, very patient,” Commissioner Braswell stated. “He has always said whatever is best for the county I can live with.”

TA Loving Company of Goldsboro was awarded a $36,694,400 contract in June 2020 to construct the 117,000 square foot facility. The bid came in about $12 million under original estimates.  Including the cost of land, technical and professional services, furniture and contingency, the county will borrow approximately $42 million for the project. The loan will be repaid over an 18 to 20 year period.

Completion of the new Johnston County Detention Center is expected in early-2022.