Local News

Group recommends improvements for Durham jail

Posted June 6, 2016 4:36 p.m. EDT
Updated June 6, 2016 6:09 p.m. EDT

— An outside review has suggested dozens of improvements for the operation of the Durham County jail.

Sheriff Mike Andrews asked an expert from the National Institute of Corrections to assess the jail after months of public complaints and protests over conditions inside the 736-bed facility.

Three jail inmates have died since last year, and protesters claim those deaths were the result of neglect by corrections officers. One of those deaths was found to be the result of an overdose; the other two are still under investigation.

One of the NIC's recommendations is to house inmates with mental health issues separately. Andrews said he's already working on that, having requested an extra $800,000 from the Durham County Board of Commissioners to set up a mental health pod in the jail.

"I don't know if it could have helped (prevent the inmate deaths), but it would have been nice to have an individual or the facility open," he said. "You never know what's on somebody's mind. By having those who are specially trained, it may help recognize that illness."

Other recommendations include improving the taste of the food at the jail, an issue Andrews called one of the most important in the report.

Several recommendations focus on how to reduce the turnover rate of jail employees. Over the last year, the jail has lost 30 employees.