CHARLOTTE — Staffing shortages at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center in uptown will result in the relocation of about two dozen juvenile inmates at the juvenile detention center, according to Sheriff Garry McFadden.
Sources told Eyewitness News reporter Joe Bruno earlier this week that the Mecklenburg County Sheriff and Department of Public Safety were discussing the relocation of all female juvenile inmates and all non-Mecklenburg County male juvenile inmates to other facilities.
For nearly two years, the jail in north Charlotte has housed juveniles from the Charlotte are who are younger than 18-years-old while they wait for their court cases to play out.
Bruno contacted Sheriff Garry McFadden late Tuesday who confirmed the possible relocation and said details were being worked out.
“We are in preliminary discussions and reviewing all options to ensure adequate staffing levels at Mecklenburg County Detention Center Central -- where there is currently a greater need for our resources,” McFadden said. “Once MCSO has finalized details and logistics with DPS, an official statement will be released.”
On Thursday, the sheriff’s office confirmed that it will relocate 23 juveniles currently held at the Mecklenburg County Juvenile Detention Center who are facing criminal charges in counties other than Mecklenburg.
The relocation will decrease the juvenile detention population in Mecklenburg County by a third and allow for 29 more officers to work at Detention Center-Central, where there is a staffing shortage. Officials said there have been significant impacts to staffing due to vacancies, ongoing training, COVID-19 and increased cases of employees utilizing the Family Medical Leave Act.
Last month, a current and a former detention officer told anchor Allison Latos that many of their colleagues are afraid after a series of assaults by inmates including one where in inmate used crude, handmade knives to injure three officers. As a result, some officers have walked away from the job.
“We are all scared,” a detention officer told Channel 9. “It’s a real scary thing to walk inside that jail every day and wonder if you’re going to go home.”
There were 132 vacancies at that point in the sheriff’s office, which was up from 85 openings in April.
A spokesperson shared the following with Channel 9 on Wednesday: “There have been significant impacts to staffing due to a multitude of reasons, vacancies, ongoing training, illnesses, COVID 19, FMLA, etc.”
“This decision was made with careful thought and consideration,” McFadden said in a release. “Since the onset of the pandemic in 2019, our staff has worked tirelessly for 20 months to continue operations and ensure the safety of our detention centers. Mandatory overtime has been implemented and resources have been committed from other areas of MCSO to assist with staffing shortages at Mecklenburg County Detention Center Central specifically. Every sector of this agency has been impacted. Trials have been delayed, resulting in some residents remaining in our facility longer than anticipated. While this is not a permanent solution, it will provide temporary relief and resources where they are currently needed most.”
The juvenile detention center is not closing, the sheriff stressed. The facility serves 15-17-year-olds and is located in north Charlotte near Sunset Road.
“The Department of Public Safety – Juvenile Justice Division is appreciative of the partnership we have created with the Mecklenburg County Sherriff’s Office to operate the Mecklenburg County Juvenile Detention Center,” said William Lassiter, Deputy Secretary over Juvenile Justice for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. “As the sheriff’s office has helped us in times of need in the past, we are glad to assist them now by removing all non-Mecklenburg County juveniles from their facility and placing them in our state-operated facilities. As we do in every case, we will place these juveniles in facilities that best meet their needs and allow for safety and security to be maintained.”
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