When we picked up the mail last week, these words were stamped across each envelope addressed to our remaining client awaiting sentencing at Mecklenburg County Detention Center. She has been held since 2018 awaiting sentencing; most people are held at the detention center for less than two years. After multiple stops and starts, she finally received a sentencing date for mid-January 2022.
Our Pre-Release Manager began to investigate, and found our client at the Catawba County Detention Center. The story of how she got there is another effect of a multi-year pandemic. On December 21, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported during its semi-annual inspection that conditions at MCDC did not meet some of the minimum standards for safety, health and welfare of inmates and employees. The report states there were over 1,400 inmates at the jail, and recommends reducing that number to below 1,000. Sheriff McFadden shared in a news release that his agency is working with state and local officials to reduce the jail population.
According to a WFAE.org story, Sheriff McFadden stated “We have been very transparent about the shortages facing the agency and we are exhausting all options to ensure the safety and security of (the county jail). These are unprecedented times. Our staff has worked through the COVID-19 pandemic since the beginning of 2020. They are fatigued, coping with loss due to the virus or battling the virus themselves while still fulfilling their duties at MCDC. We must take all of these factors into account, but we will not cease in our efforts to adequately operate our detention facility.”
MCDC needed to reduce its population by 400 inmates, including moving some to other detention centers. Our client will be housed in Catawba County with the hope of keeping her sentencing date on track. Our local court system, like so much in our daily life, has been greatly impacted by the COVID pandemic. For more than a year and a half, in-person services in the Mecklenburg County court system have been shuttered.