Originally created 02/12/02

Warden becomes new jail director



AIKEN - After an exhaustive search from a 75-person pool, Aiken County hired a new director Monday for its detention center.

Aiken County Administrator Clay Killian said John Rowley, the warden of the Clarion County Corrections Facility in Shippenville, Pa., will start March 4.

Mr. Rowley will work as the director of the current county jail on Hampton Avenue and oversee the transition to the new Doris C. Gravat facility on Wire Road.

The $15 million, 90,000-square-foot jail is largely complete but has not received final approval from state inspectors. Mr. Killian said an opening date for the jail has been pushed back again and is at least a few months away.

Mr. Killian said having Mr. Rowley in place at the old jail, which is more than 35 years old, will help the transition to the new facility.

Staff training still needs to be completed before inmates can be moved, and the overcrowding issue will be one of many Mr. Rowley will address.

"He's got a full plate. It is unusual to get someone so fast from this distance away," Mr. Killian said. "He knows the urgency of the situation."

Mr. Rowley, who has been with Clarion County for two years, has worked for two other county jails in Pennsylvania and also for the state department of corrections for eight years. He has 24 years of experience in corrections.

His salary will be $55,000, Mr. Killian said.

Mr. Rowley's experience in local jail systems and with overcrowding, a growing concern in Aiken County, helped him win the job, Mr. Killian said.

The Hampton Avenue facility routinely has been more than double its 117-inmate capacity. In recent weeks, the population spiked to 300.

On Monday, the total was about 225.

The new jail will hold about 350 inmates. It is a direct supervision jail where inmates can be watched every minute through common areas with varying degrees of security - a concept in jail construction that is growing in popularity.

Reach Matthew Boedy at (803) 648-1395 or matthew.boedy@augustachronicle.com.

Aiken County's new jail director will start the job March 4.