'A need for an upgrade:' Jailbreak exposes problems with Nash County jail

Josh Chapin Image
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Questions after Nash County jailbreak
EMBED <>More Videos

Questions after Nash County jailbreak

NASHVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Sheriff Keith Stone said the Nash County Detention Center is in need of repair.

"I think there is a definite need for an upgrade," Sheriff Stone said. "There's a serious need for this and in my opinion, any time you have forty inmates in one pod system, it makes it very difficult to manage."

The difficult conditions manifested in the worst possible way Monday in Nashville when five inmates broke through wiring, hopped two gates and got out.

"Some of the individuals probably saw it being worked on before," he said. "They're playing basketball, they're playing handball and they're bouncing up against it from time to time," Sheriff Stone said, and he noted that there are no officers present in the area where the five men broke out, only a camera.

Stone said the camera had a blind spot and the inmates took advantage of it.

"It's something that the commissioners have assured me they are working on," Stone said. "I think this does bring urgency to it. I think we need to have facilities where you have smaller populations incarcerated so that this system is not looking at 40 people but instead you're looking at five."

The medium-detention facility on West Washington Street can house nearly 300 inmates. It holds people awaiting trial, sentencing and both.

Two years of looking through budgets shows the county has put money into the jail but nothing in the way of security.

In the last couple of years, the county has invested more than $65,000 in plumbing and other jail improvements. This last budget cycle (i.e., 2018-19) much less money was recommended.

The Rocky Mount Telegram also detailed a dispute between the sheriff and the county manager. The county manager said the sheriff didn't report the issues properly.

ABC11 reached out to the Nash County Commissioners via email and in person -- the commissioners are in a budget meeting until Thursday.