Davidson County working to improve conditions at jail

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LEXINGTON, N.C. — The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office sat down with county commissioners on Thursday to discuss the condition of their jail.

“We inherited a mess to say the least,” Sheriff Richie Simmons said.

On Dec. 4, Simmons and his team inspected the jail. It was the first thing on his list to-do after taking office.

“I’m looking in between the cells and my doors won’t open. There’s about eight inches of water between the cells and it shorted out the cells,” Simmons said.

He said right then he knew there were major issues with the facility and he scheduled an inspection with the state.

“They brought every inspector they had. We wanted them to point out everything that was wrong with our jail,” he said.

Out of the 73 issues within the jail, Simmons said they’ve already fixed 56 of them. He said a state representative said the issues have fallen on deaf ears over the years.

“And I think people put us in this office because they’re ready for change,” he said.

He adds that the 1950s jail is outdated, which is why things are falling apart. They’re making space in their budget to hire a designated person to keep it intact.

“We’re going to have this well under hand,” Simmons said. “I can control the conditions, that’s what we can control.”

He said the overcrowding issue is something out of their control and a new jail may be the only solution.

“And that’s why we gave them the information and now it’s in their hands to decide if in fact that’s what we need,” he said.

Until then, the sheriff’s goal is to renovate what they have and make all the improvements the state ordered.

“It’s not the Holiday Inn, but they are humans and we’ve got to take care of them when they’re in our possession,” Simmons said.

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