Randolph commissioners approve funding to expand county jail

ASHEBORO, N.C. -- Overcrowded and in desperate need of an update. But not for long.

The Randolph County Commissioners have just approved funding to expand the jail.

When the project is complete, the jail will be able to house more than 400 inmates.

"We have the capacity to hold 211 inmates currently. The average population runs around 280 inmates per day," says Colonel Aundrea Azelton with the Randolph County Sheriff's Office.

Each cell is overcrowded. State inspectors have taken notice.

"They have given us warning that we need to accommodate for that over crowding, because that leads to inmate-on-inmate assaults and problems within the jail," said Col. Azelton.

She says the jail is forced to send inmates to nearby county jails to ease the population problem.

"We're planning to add roughly 220-230 beds to the facility," she said.

The $32 million will be used to double the jail's capacity and make changes to the maximum-security units.

"[The plan] would increase our lock down or maximum-security area to 48 lock down cells," she said.

The opioid epidemic has created another need for jail adjustments.

"We're creating special facilities for those inmates to be located in while they're in our county correctional facility. It's a problem in Randolph County and it's a problem across our state," said Hal Johnson, the Randolph County Manager.

Johnson says the jail addition will include a 30-bed housing unit for inmates suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues, giving them ample space and programs to recover.

"We're looking for any programs in the facility that will help us help inmates find rehabilitation and help them become a productive member of society," said Col. Azelton.

As part of the expansion, FOX8 is told they will likely need additional staff to oversee the growing jail for safety concerns.

Construction is set to begin in the summer.

There are phases planned to make sure inmates are house properly while renovations are underway.

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