Local News

High-Security Lockdown Lifted At Franklin County INS Facility

Posted September 24, 2001

— From Sept. 11 until 11:30 a.m. Monday, there was a high-security lockdown at the Franklin County Jail. It is part of a special relationship Franklin County has with the federal government.

Franklin County Jail inmates can come from anywhere in the county and anywhere in the world. The five-year-old, 150-bed Louisburg lockup is the designated Immigration and Naturalization Service detention facility for eastern North Carolina.

A few hours after the terrorist attacks, the federal authorities got in touch with the sheriff.

"I got a phone call from Atlanta, which is their headquarters from what I understand, and I had to secure all the INS inmates and cut them off from visitors, no outside activities whatsoever," said Franklin County Sheriff Robert Redmond.

For almost two weeks, the Franklin County INS prisoners were completely cut off from the outside world.

"I think it shows that the INS is on top of things. They're taking prudent steps, I'd say," Redmond said. "I'm sure this is not the only place they've gone through and checked the list. It seems like a wise thing to do right now."

Jailers told WRAL that there are still at least two prisoners of Middle Eastern descent, one of Pakistani descent, who are being held in Franklin County. The names and pictures of every inmate are public record, except for the INS detainees. Jailers said their names and pictures are off-limits.

The INS does not tell Franklin County much about the inmates it drops off, just that they have violated immigration laws and could be deported. No one has been linked directly to terrorism, but Franklin County does have a link to the nationwide crackdown on immigration violation.

The Franklin County Jail became the INS facility two years ago after a recommendation from the U.S. Marshal's office. Since it opened in 1996, there have been no escapes.

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