Orangeburg County says it is improving policies and procedures at the jail, even as it deals with another lawsuit involving overtime pay.
The changes include the installation of a biometric timecard system, which uses handprints to tell when county employees clock in and out.
The system helps the county maintain accurate records of the time worked by employees, County Administrator Harold Young said.
In 2011, 12 jail supervisors sued for overtime pay they earned over the course of three years. Their lawsuit was quickly settled for $116,928.53 for the supervisors and $29,029.95 for their attorney fees.
Last year, 46 correctional officers sued the jail, as well as Orangeburg and Calhoun counties. The employees claim the jail did not pay them for all the time they worked, and also failed to pay them extra for working overtime.
In answering the complaint, defense attorneys said the officers were paid in accordance with policy and no discrepancy exists. Also, Orangeburg and Calhoun counties said they shouldn’t be parties to the lawsuit.
When the lawsuit was filed, the jail was controlled by the Orangeburg-Calhoun Regional Law Enforcement Commission.
The commission has since been dissolved, with Orangeburg County taking over the jail’s oversight. Calhoun County now pays Orangeburg County for jail services.
Young has said the change is designed to help the jail reduce costs and budget more efficiently, citing a total operating loss more than $2 million at the jail over the past four years.
Officially named now the Orangeburg County Detention Center, the facility has a $5.7 million budget for this year.
Since the change, the jail employees now use the county’s handbook and fall under its human resources policies.
“It’s a good check and balance so far as how some decisions are made on certain things,” Young said.
The jail employees have a tough task and work under difficult conditions, he said. “We let them know we appreciate what they do, but we want to run the most efficient and professional jail that we can.”
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-533-5516. T&D Managing Editor Gene Crider contributed to this report.