By Brandon Martin
The new $70 million Henry County Adult Detention Center (ADC) is approximately 20 percent complete, on budget and on schedule, according to Deputy County Administrator Dale Wagoner.
“Work up to this point has included grading the site, installing underground utilities and stormwater structures, forming the foundation, pouring concrete floors and constructing concrete block walls,” Wagoner said.
“Approximately 75 percent of the floors have been poured with concrete. Approximately 50 percent of the walls are constructed. Cells are being constructed off-site. Plumbing, electrical, and mechanical is being installed as needed, and as the construction progresses,” he added.
Wagoner said the county hired local vendor Steve Martin Trenching, Inc., to install the Sewer Lift Station necessary for the proper handling of sewage from the facility. The county is also working with another local industry, Invista, to reduce the costs of this component and to enhance the site for future industrial growth at the site.
The current county jail, located at 3250 Kings Mountain Road, opened in 1974. It has a rated capacity of 67 inmates and 120 beds. On average, 180 inmates are housed there. Because of that overcrowding, another 75-100 inmates are routinely housed at five neighboring facilities outside of the area, and Henry County pays those other localities to take inmates.
According to the county’s webpage, hallways in the existing jail “are narrow, office space is extremely limited, no space is available for inmate education or counseling, and opportunities for family members to visit inmates are extremely curtailed. Our employees must step over and around dozens of inmates sleeping on mattresses on the floor. These issues have been prevalent for at least the past 7-8 years.”
These limitations have been compounded by new guidelines surrounding the coronavirus, according to Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry, who said his deputies have been very mindful lately “using masks if we can’t be further than six feet away, monitoring temperatures” and implementing other cleanliness guidelines.
The incoming inmates are also subject to the new rules at the jail. Perry said that new inmates are screened before they enter with temperature monitoring in place. In addition, he said his deputies haven’t been “as aggressive on traffic stops.”
With all the moving parts regarding coronavirus requirements, Perry said that his department also is preparing for how they will staff the new facility.
In a May 26 budget public hearing, Henry County Administrator Tim Hall read comments from Perry seeking additional funding to hire new positions–a 1st lieutenant and an investigator.
Because the new jail “will operate completely different from the old facility, this 1st Lt. will be responsible for preparing to open the” facility, Perry wrote in his comments. “For a massive amount of work that needs to be done, this is the beginning person of a transition team. Because we currently utilize a very old facility, technology will completely change operations of the ADC. We will need to tailor this to our needs and see which inmate programs are having the most impact.”
The investigator will work to ease some of the workload required to conduct background investigations on an expected 300-400 applications for over 75 new employees. Advertisement, recruitment, and taking applications will begin this fall, according to Perry.
The new jail is expected to be completed in January 2022.