An open house for the newly completed Ashe County Jail and Law Enforcement Center will be held this Saturday along with tours for the general public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The jail’s adjoining law enforcement center is comprised of three floors with that house primarily the Ashe County Sheriff’s Department along with an office for the North Carolina Highway Patrol, Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Magistrate’s office. The third floor of the facility will be ground zero for Ashe County Communications and Dispatch.
Prisoner arraignments and first court appearances will now be possible from the LEC with the installation of a video arraignment center. County officials have demonstrated that security will be a priority within the LEC as a video conference center has also been constructed, which will allow visitations only through a television monitor.
Compared to its predecessor, the newly completed detention center dwarfs the former jail. The facility is capable of housing a total of 165 inmates in five cell blocks. In its entirety, the jail is comprised of five cell blocks. Blocks A, B, and C will house 32 inmates each while Block D and E will hold 44 and 20 inmates respectively. Block E will be the female block and will be overlooked by only female law enforcement officers. Skylight windows have been installed into each cell block. The current jail does not have a natural light source. Williams explained that the jail’s windows had to be “welded off” to prevent the passage of drugs, tobacco, and other contraband into the facility.
Separate holding cells will be available to keep inmates who pose a danger to themselves or others or prove to insubordinate to the center’s staff.
Altogether, 72 security cameras will be focused inside and outside the jail to expose any potential “blind spots” to security personnel. A concrete pad, known as the “area of refuge”, is located at the rear of the building to serve as an evacuation port for emergency situations.
Overlooking the five cell blocks is a control tower that has a panoramic view of all the center’s inmates. Any move that the prisoner’s make will be seen by the guard on duty at the time and will be connected to the inmates through a speaker. The tower’s windows are comprised of a double sided glass that allows officials to look down into the cell areas without the inmates being able to observe the action of jailers.