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N.C. inspectors give Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office a deadline to fix deficient jail conditions

WBTV Charlotte logo WBTV Charlotte 2/10/2022 WBTV Web Staff
State leaders are giving the MCSO a deadline to submit a plan of correction on each deficiency by March 11, 2022. © Provided by WBTV Charlotte State leaders are giving the MCSO a deadline to submit a plan of correction on each deficiency by March 11, 2022.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina state inspectors are giving the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) a deadline to fix the deficient conditions at the Mecklenburg jail.

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On Dec. 21, 2021, the Division of Health Service Regulation (DHSR) Construction Section Jails and Detention Unit, conducted a bi-annual inspection and a complaint investigation.

Related: N.C. inspectors: Depopulation needed due to critically low staffing levels in ‘unsafe’ Mecklenburg jail

This supplemental biannual inspection and complaint investigation found deficiencies that need to be fixed.

State leaders are giving the MCSO a deadline to submit a plan of correction on each deficiency by March 11, 2022.

Officials say corrective action must begin immediately, and any completion date greater than 60 days from date of survey requires written justification from the sheriff.

“In response to the inspection and investigation, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office will continue taking corrective actions and will submit a plan of correction on each deficiency noted in DHSR report received on February 9th by the March 11, 2022, deadline as specified in their correspondence,” a response from the MCSO read.

MCSO officials say they have began addressing staffing shortages at the jail by reducing the juvenile population and reallocating personnel from the Mecklenburg County Juvenile Detention Center to the jail.

Related: Mecklenburg County District Attorney responds to concerns at Mecklenburg County Jail

Officials also say MCSO has created a new specialized Tactical Response Unit (TRU) to address troublesome areas within the detention center and to enhance the safety and security of personnel and residents, and also implemented a new overtime policy to ensure adequate staff is inside the detention center to respond to requests or calls for assistance.

In January, state inspectors ruled the Mecklenburg County Jail unsafe, owing to critically low staffing levels. State inspectors visited the jail in late December as part of an ongoing inspection.

That comes in the face of increased scrutiny from WBTV and other media outlets about conditions in the jail.

‘That’s dangerous’: Former Mecklenburg Co. detention officers say jail is unsafe for staff

Chris Wood, the Chief Jail inspector of the Construction Section of the Division of Health Service Regulation, said conditions at the jail were jeopardizing the safe custody, safety, health, or welfare of the inmates and detention staff.

During the Dec. 21, 2021 inspection, officials say conditions were found that that fail to meet some of the minimum standards for local confinement facilities in North Carolina.

During the semi-annual inspection coupled with an investigation into the recent incidents, it was reported to DHSR inspectors that staffing shortages leave doubt as to whether the inmates can be safely evacuated from the facility in the event of an emergency.

Inspectors say there has also been an increase in the number of incidents that have resulted in the injury of staff and inmates. There have been delays in response time providing assistance to staff to control the incidents and, in one case, medical attention to an injured staff member was delayed.

Due to the staffing shortages, inspectors say it has been determined that Mecklenburg County Jail Central should take immediate action to de-populate the facility to a level that can be managed by available staff.

When the DHSR investigation is complete, inspectors say they will recommend a manageable number of inmates the facility can house until staffing levels return closer to normal levels. Based on the information inspectors say they have received and reviewed thus far, their recommendation would be for a census of fewer than 1,000 inmates.

Sheriff McFadden said he is working to reduce the number of inmates at the jail to accommodate the decreased staffing.

DOCUMENT: MCSO response to NC Department of Health and Human Services findings

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services presented the jail with a Notice of Determination due to the current staffing shortage.

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