Durham County jail inmates will be allowed out of their cells four hours every day beginning Monday, twice the time they are now allowed out, the Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday.
Inmates are currently allowed out of their cells for two hours in daily shifts. Twelve cells at a time in each pod or housing unit open into a dayroom, a common space with access to showers, phones and a recreation yard. Under the new regimen, 24 cells in each pod will be opened at a time.
The jail started confining inmates to their cells in March after a threats on guards and a sweep of the jail found more than 20 makeshift weapons.
At first, inmates were being let into the dayroom for two hours, three days a week, then four days a week and then daily. Jail officials have said they will continue increasing the “detainee walk schedule” as long as the inmates’ behavior improves.
“Detainee conduct will determine the facility’s schedule as it pertains to inmate movement,” Sheriff Mike Andrews said in a new release Thursday. “Providing a secure environment while valuing the needs of those in the facility remains my primary focus.”
The Durham County Detention Facility houses 500-plus inmates in 12 pods of 48 cells each. Some cells have bunk beds to house two inmates.
Jail officials have said they are unable to isolate troublemakers because there are too many of them and the pods have designated uses, such as housing non-violent offenders.
Before March, inmates had access to the dayroom 10 hours per day. Jail director Lt. Col. Natalie Perkins has said she does not expect inmates to have that much time outside their cells again.