County taxpayers spent almost $100 million to build a county jail in downtown Greensboro that opened in 2012.

All large structures have issues and, in the first decade and one year of existence, the new jail has certainly faced problems – from mold, to faulty flooring, to cracking in walls that shouldn’t be happening until years from now.

The latest issue – a problem in the jail’s showers – is going to take about $400,000 to fix.

Guilford County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Aline Almonor said that, in the opinion of the department, the shower coating should have lasted longer than it did.

She added that, with that said, the department hasn’t conducted any in depth research into the life span of this type of shower coating. Regardless, the warranty on the shower surface expired years ago and the county is now facing the costly problem.

Almonor stated in an email to the Rhino Times that the jail, which sheriff’s staff call Jail Central, does get quite a bit of use, as do the showers.

“The average annual inmate population at Jail Central from 2013 to 2022 was 10,400,” she noted.  “That number does not include arrestees who were processed, finger-printed, and released at the Jail (i.e., shortly after their arrest).  The 10,400 average includes only those that were booked into Jail Central. That large number of inmates resulted in a lot of shower use and potential wear and tear on the showers.”

According to Almonor, the main problem has been the failure of the epoxy coating to stick to the underlying block walls.  This has led to cracking and chipping in the shower walls and, eventually, in the shower floors – mostly near the drains.

The belief in the department is that the cause is a combination of wear and tear due to the substantial amount of inmate use combined with a potential defect in either the product or the application of the product

She added that, since this was the department’s employees first experience with this product, they have no solid proof that it is defective

Almonor also gave insight into why it’s such an expensive repair job.

“One of our employees recalls observing the initial installation (i.e., prior to the new Jail opening in June 2012),” she wrote, “and described the process as labor intensive.  He observed the block being prepped by sanding it and coating it with some type of sealer or adhesive.  A thin sheet of fiberglass was then placed on the walls, followed by another coating once that dried. Once this was completely dry, they began mixing the epoxy coating and applying the same coating to the floors and walls.”

Several years ago, the department attempted to fix the problem – at a much lower cost – by hiring a contractor to sand the problem areas, patch them and then reapply the epoxy coating.  However, those spot repairs didn’t last, which is why the department had to make the request to the Board of Commissioners for the $400,000.