153A-223. Enforcement of minimum standards.

If an inspection conducted pursuant to G.S. 153A-222 discloses that the jailers and supervisory and administrative personnel of a local confinement facility do not meet the entry level employment standards established pursuant to Article 1 of Chapter 17C or Chapter 17E or that a local confinement facility does not meet the minimum standards published pursuant to G.S. 153A-221 and, in addition, if the Secretary determines that conditions in the facility jeopardize the safe custody, safety, health, or welfare of persons confined in the facility, the Secretary may order corrective action or close the facility, as provided in this section:

(1) The Secretary shall give notice of his determination to the governing body and each other local official responsible for the facility. The Secretary shall also send a copy of this notice, along with a copy of the inspector's report, to the senior resident superior court judge of the superior court district or set of districts as defined in G.S. 7A-41.1 in which the facility is located. Upon receipt of the Secretary's notice, the governing body shall call a public hearing to consider the report. The hearing shall be held within 20 days after the day the Secretary's notice is received. The inspector shall appear at this hearing to advise and consult with the governing body concerning any corrective action necessary to bring the facility into conformity with the standards.

(2) The governing body shall, within 30 days after the day the Secretary's notice is received, request a contested case hearing, initiate appropriate corrective action or close the facility. The corrective action must be completed within a reasonable time.

(3) A contested case hearing, if requested, shall be conducted pursuant to G.S. 150B, Article 3. The issues shall be: (i) whether the facility meets the minimum standards; (ii) whether the conditions in the facility jeopardize the safe custody, safety, health, or welfare of persons confined therein; and (iii) the appropriate corrective action to be taken and a reasonable time to complete that action.

(4) If the governing body does not, within 30 days after the day the Secretary's notice is received, or within 30 days after service of the final decision if a contested case hearing is held, either initiate corrective action or close the facility, or does not complete the action within a reasonable time, the Secretary may order that the facility be closed.

(5) The governing body may appeal an order of the Secretary or a final decision to the senior resident superior court judge. The governing body shall initiate the appeal by giving by registered mail to the judge and to the Secretary notice of its intention to appeal. The notice must be given within 15 days after the day the Secretary's order or the final decision is received. If notice is not given within the 15-day period, the right to appeal is terminated.

(6) The senior resident superior court judge shall hear the appeal. He shall cause notice of the date, time, and place of the hearing to be given to each interested party, including the Secretary, the governing body, and each other local official involved. The Office of Administrative Hearings, if a contested case hearing has been held, shall file the official record, as defined in G.S. 150B-37, with the senior resident superior court judge and shall serve a copy on each person who has been given notice of the hearing. The judge shall conduct the hearing without a jury. He shall consider the official record, if any, and may accept evidence from the Secretary, the governing body, and each other local official which he finds appropriate. The issue before the court shall be whether the facility continues to jeopardize the safe custody, safety, health, or welfare of persons confined therein. The court may affirm, modify, or reverse the Secretary's order. (1947, c. 915; 1967, c. 581, s. 2; 1973, c. 476, s. 138; c. 822, s. 1; 1981, c. 614, ss. 20, 21; 1983, c. 745, s. 8; 1987, c. 827, s. 1; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1037, s. 123; 2011-398, s. 55; 2018-5, s. 17.1(a).)