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‘Substandard living conditions’ force relocation of female inmates

<i>WLOS</i><br/>While North Carolina law says convicted rapists must register as sex offenders
While North Carolina law says convicted rapists must register as sex offenders

By Charles Perez

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    RUTHERFORD COUNTY, North Carolina (WLOS) — Female inmates at the Rutherford County Detention Center are being relocated as a result of substandard living conditions.

The relocation comes in the wake of an inspection report released by state authorities noting significant deficiencies and prompting an order to evacuate the unit.

Rutherford County Sheriff Aaron Ellenburg immediately took steps to comply with the order, while coordinating the effort to bring the women’s wing of the detention center up to standards.

The Rutherford County Jail has the capacity to house over 200 inmates. The larger portion of the center is also the newer wing of the facility, built-in 1990.

At the far end of the center is the older and smaller wing of the center, dedicated to female inmates. It was built in 1971.

According to the sheriff, this older wing has been in need of maintenance and repair for a long period of time. Among the violations cited in the report were issues with mold and rust, in addition to inadequate ventilation and plumbing. Further, the report notes missing fire extinguishers and fire alarms that were inoperative.

The 20 women housed in the female wing are being moved to facilities in nearby Cleveland, Burke and McDowell Counties.

Sheriff Ellenburg says the needed improvements should take about 8 weeks to complete and expects the inmates to all return to the Rutherford facility at the end of that period.

For Ellenburg, who only began his term as Sheriff in December, it’s an opportunity to forge a new and better future for the center and its inmates. “I’m looking forward to the future of Rutherford County Detention,” says Ellenburg, “for the safety of our inmates, the safety of our employees, and to start making a difference in some of these people’s (the inmates) lives.”

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