You might think that a $93 million building that opened just 10 years ago wouldn’t have a major mold problem, but the large county jail in downtown Greensboro would prove you wrong.

A lot of mold has been found on three floors of the relatively new Guilford County jail, and now the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department is addressing the problem with testing, mold mitigation repairs, deep cleaning – and by moving inmates away from the affected areas.

Mold was found in inmate housing areas on the third, fifth, and seventh levels of the jail, and the Sheriff’s Department brought in an independent environmental testing company to evaluate the problem and has hired another company to get rid of the mold and make the areas safe for inmates again.

A Friday, Aug. 19 press release from the department stated. “The health and medical well-being of those living and working in our Detention Centers is an important priority for both the Sheriff’s Office and the County.  Accordingly, the testing process is thorough but time-consuming.”

Both the Sheriff’s Department and county officials have been receiving written air quality reports with test results and recommendations regarding the housing units at the Greensboro Detention Center.

As of August 19, HVAC ductwork above some ceiling tiles had been cleaned and a temporary ceiling was installed in one section of the jail until all ceiling tiles damaged by mold can be replaced.  Cleanup work proceeded in other areas of the jail as well.

Guilford County government has had major battles with mold over the years but those have generally been in older county buildings – and in buildings that didn’t keep people locked inside all day and all night.

One of the worst cases of mold was in the Guilford County Courthouse in Greensboro where the roof leaked profusely and conditions were horrific in other parts of the building.  One room on the top floor had a makeshift pipe that ran from the roof into the room below where a large trash can in the room collected thick black sludge from the roof.

Conditions in the courthouse got so bad at one point that, in a surreal scene, a sheriff’s deputy, acting on behalf of a Guilford County judge, served papers to all of the Guilford County commissioners just before the start of a commissioners’ meeting.

The process of fixing up the courthouse took years and conditions in the building are still less than optimal – but the Sheriff’s Department is trying to address the current problem in the jail in a very swift manner while keeping inmates safe.  The department has also been providing detailed updates on the work to remedy the situation and, in the meantime, keep the inmates out of the affected areas.

This is one time when Guilford County is fortunate to have mistakenly built a jail much larger than was needed, with many sections constantly unoccupied.  The jail is rated to hold 1,032 inmates but has an average daily population of only 690. That gives the jail staff a lot of options when moving inmates around for repairs in cases like this. Before the jail was built,  Sheriff’s Department staff, court officials and a $300,000 jail study all predicted a jail at least this large was badly needed, with some predicting that it would be “full the day it opened.”