Jail inspection finds violations

Johnny Woodard Staff Reporter

August 31, 2013

More than a dozen regulation violations were discovered at the Scotland County Detention Center during the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ semi-annual inspection of the facility.

Areas of noncompliance in the report included instances of poor inmate living conditions and inadequate supervision by staff.

Sheriff Shep Jones said on Friday that “while most of the (deficiencies cited) were maintenance issues” he and Facility Administrator Cpt. Sandra Miller were taking the findings seriously.

“Cpt. Miller has already put together a plan of action that she will present to the (Scotland County Board of Commissioners) at the meeting on Tuesday,” Jones explained.

That plan of action, Jones said, will include an explanation of the report’s findings as well as a series of proposed solutions. The presentation will also include quotes for the repair and maintenance work required to bring the jail back into compliance. It will be up to the commissioners to decide if the work will be funded, Jones added.

Mandated by law, County Manager Kevin Patterson said the regular inspections often yield a few minor maintenance violations.

“If you look at these, most of them were for routine maintenance non-compliance,” Patterson said, echoing Jones’ statement.

According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ report, noncompliance can be handled in three different ways.

“If there is noncompliance in any of these areas it may result in the following: Agreement of correction; order of correction or an order of closure.”

With a capacity of 109, the jail had 94 inmates at the time of inspection, on July 18. It was cited for one deficiency in the “accounting system for issuing and returning keys” section of the report.

“It was difficult for escorting officers to find the correct keys,” the report states. “Administration must identify all keys and staff should be familiar with all keys.”

Also uncovered in the inspection was that officers were not making their “rounds” quickly enough.

According to regulation officers must make “supervision rounds and directly observe each inmate in person at least twice per hour on an irregular basis.”

The report states that officers at the Scotland County jail failed to do this.

“The copy of rounds reflects missed rounds,” states the report.

In addition to missed rounds at one station, the inspection found an instance of “almost two hours between rounds.”

Jones said that “appropriate disciplinary action” has since been taken against the jailer responsible for this lapse, which he said was not indicative of a larger pattern of behavior. He went on to say that the problem had nothing to do with staffing needs and that the detention center is not understaffed.

According to the report, the jail is required to “utilize one or both of the following methods of supervision”: Direct or remote two-way voice communication with all confinement units and/or visual contact either through direct observation or by means of electronic surveillance with all confinement units.

In violation of that requirement, the report states that the jail had “no two-way communication available in any cells and all cells are not monitored by video surveillance.”

The Scotland County Jail is also in need of painting, states the report, which found the jail to be out of compliance in that area, as well.

“Most of the areas of the facility are in need of painting.”

Other citations included areas with “holes in the ceiling” and jail cells with “missing view panels and food trap doors.”

“These must be repaired. Exit doors must have handles,” advises the report.

“Many” security mirrors were also found to be rusty and out of compliance, the kitchen contained greasy spaces and stained ceiling tiles and the laundry area was found to have a dryer with an excessive “build up of lint and dust.”

Further cited deficiencies:

-Property and mattresses not properly stored off the floor “to prevent damage and maintain sanitary conditions.”

-“Numerous HVAC vents throughout the facility in all areas have excessive lint and dirt buildup and require cleaning. Ongoing problem.”

-“Several commodes have holes around the walls that are in need of repair.”

-There were “numerous” instances of inmates not having access to hot and cold water, as is required.

-“Most showers are in poor condition and need repairing and thorough cleaning.”

In the future Jones said the jail would be working more closely with the county buildings staff to remedy smaller maintenance and repair problems.

The report and the plan of action put together by Cpt. Miller will be presented during Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting of the Scotland County Board of Commissioners, which starts at 7 p.m. inside the downtown A.B. Gibson Education Center.