- Associated Press - Thursday, December 19, 2019

NASHVILLE, N.C. (AP) - A North Carolina county jail was ordered by state regulators Wednesday to move more than 100 inmates elsewhere by late next week until safety hazards in the facility are fixed.

The state Division of Health Service Regulation sent a letter to Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone saying that no more than 56 inmates be housed in the jail while repairs are made, WRAL reported. Stone said in a statement that he has been working to improve the jail since he took office five years ago.

Chief Deputy Brandon Medina said the county is trying to find space in other county jails for about 130 inmates by a Dec. 27 deadline set by the state.

Regulators have pointed to electrical problems, blocked doorways, staffing shortages and other issues at the jail. They set a deadline as early as 5 p.m. Thursday to fix some problems, while the sheriff’s office has up to 60 days to address others issues on the list.

Medina said as many as 19 detention officers would need to be hired to meet the staffing recommendations in the report. Seven applicants are now going through the hiring process, he said.

Twice this year, inmates have escaped from the jail by punching holes in the fence surrounding the exercise yard. In the second case, a lock on a door to the yard either malfunctioned or was “sabotaged,” Stone said at the time.

All of the inmates were later recaptured.

Inmates have also started several fires in the jail this year using wires from electrical outlets or light fixtures, authorities said.

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