A bill before the legislature would pay for two full-time jail inspectors to examine county detention facilities across the state.
House Bill 380 would send $211,502 in recurring funds to the Department of Health and Human Services so the state could hire two new jail inspectors. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Carla Cunningham (D-Mecklenburg), references the need for the new hires in its title: “An Act to Appropriate Funds to Hire Two Additional Statewide Jail Inspectors Due to the Increased Time Required for Those Inspections Resulting from the Growing Complexity of Inmate Health and Safety Regulations.”
The proposal is currently before the Appropriations Committee.
According to a tweet from Disability Rights North Carolina, the funds are also included in Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget.
Inspectors visit county, municipal and regional jails twice each year. They investigate conditions of confinement, how incarcerated people are treated, and the maintenance of entry-level job standards for jail employees. They then write a report detailing whether the jail meets minimum standards set by state law, and submit it to the officials responsible for the jail.
Jails can be cited for a wide range of violations, such as a door not being up to code to the improper monitoring of incarcerated people who have been placed on suicide watch.
Disability Rights NC released a report last year which found that jails fail half of all state inspections, and that weak forms of enforcement allow dangerous conditions to persist for years. Those consequences can be disastrous for the incarcerated people entrusted to their care.