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NC asks Mecklenburg’s sheriff to reduce Charlotte's jail population due to safety concerns

Mecklenburg County Jail
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The Mecklenburg County jail is seen uptown.

A state report says Mecklenburg County should significantly reduce its jail population because staffing shortages have created safety concerns.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services report says conditions at the county jail did not meet some of the minimum standards for safety, health and welfare of inmates and employees after an inspection on Dec. 21.

At that time, the report says, there were over 1,400 inmates at the jail. It recommends reducing that number to below 1,000.

“During the Dec. 21, 2021, semi-annual inspection coupled with an investigation into the recent incidents, it was reported to (Division of Health Service Regulation) inspectors that staffing shortages leave doubt as to whether the inmates can be safely evacuated from the facility in the event of an emergency,” chief jail inspector Chris Wood wrote in a memo to Sheriff Garry McFadden and Mecklenburg County staff. “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.”

McFadden said in a news release that his agency working with state and local officials to reduce the jail population.

“We have been very transparent about the shortages facing the agency and we are exhausting all options to ensure the safety and security of (the county jail),” McFadden said. “These are unprecedented times. Our staff has worked through the COVID-19 pandemic since the beginning of 2020.

"They are fatigued, coping with loss due to the virus or battling the virus themselves while still fulfilling their duties at (the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office). We must take all of these factors into account, but we will not cease in our efforts to adequately operate our detention facility. ”

The report noted that at the time of the inspection, 81 staff members and more than one-fourth of the inmate population had COVID.

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Woody is a Charlotte native who came to WFAE from the world of NASCAR where he was host of NASCAR Today for MRN Radio as well as a pit reporter, turn announcer and host of the NASCAR Live pre race show for Cup Series races. Before that, he was a news anchor at WBT radio in Charlotte, a traffic reporter, editor of The Charlotte Observer’s University City Magazine, News/Sports Director at WEGO-AM in Concord and a Swiss Army knife in local cable television. His first job after graduating from Appalachian State University was news reporter at The Daily Independent in Kannapolis. Along the way he’s covered everything from murder trials and a national political convention to high school sports and minor league baseball.