JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office reported two HVAC units at its detention center broke down over the weekend. That resulted in inmates being moved and at least one female inmate suffering from a heat-related issue.
Onslow County Sheriff Chris Thomas issued this media release regarding the weekend issues.
“The Onslow County Sheriff’s Detention Center has eleven inmate cell blocks, and all are on separate HVAC units. Of these eleven blocks, we try to keep one vacant at all times in the event of an equipment failure.
“As of Friday, we had one unit go down in a female block. It was discovered that there would be a delay in getting the parts needed to fix the unit. Due to the population of the detention center on Friday, there was not a vacant block readily available at the time of the AC failure. The detention staff was able to shift the inmates around to create space and the inmates were moved Saturday morning to a new block with a properly functioning HVAC. During the time before moving the inmates the temperature in the block was within the State requirements and below 85 degrees.
“It has come to my attention that late in the evening on Friday, an inmate fell in her cell and hit her head. She was transported to the hospital but was treated and released, being returned to the detention center. I am being advised that it was heat related. It should be noted that the temperature during the incident was within the State’s required temperature ranges for a detention center; that being between 68 degrees to 85 degrees.
“On Sunday morning, a second HVAC unit broke down in a male block. We have taken actions to ensure the temperatures are within the State’s guidelines. We are using fans and other options to ensure there is a cool airflow directed into the block at all times.
“ALL inmate cells have fresh water supplies and there have been no issues with the inmates’ access to unlimited clean cool drinking water.
“Over the past several years, the HVAC system has been replaced and repaired multiple times. Steps are in place for staff for such an event as described. Both the Detention Center maintenance staff and the County Buildings and Grounds staff work diligently together to maintain these units; however, wear and tear has taken its toll. It is anticipated that during the summer we will have these types of issues and will strive to keep repair parts on sites, but supply chain issues have adversely affected this practice.”