Northampton plans for new jail

Published 5:53 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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JACKSON – The former Odom Correctional Institution will remain unused in the foreseeable future. 

“[Northampton] is no longer considering using the former Odom facility as a new jail,” said Northampton County Economic Development Director Derrick Bennett in response to an inquiry from the Roanoke-Chowan News- Herald. “An engineering study and cost analysis showed that it was not feasible from a cost standpoint to renovate the facility.” 

Odom Prison, located near Jackson, has been closed since the fall of 2019. Ownership was transferred in 2021 from the state to Northampton County local government. File Photo

Odom Correctional, located outside of Jackson on Bryantown Road, first opened as a state prison in 1961 and was eventually expanded to house up to 352 offenders. In 2019, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety shut down the facility along with two others across the state. The correctional officers working at Odom were reassigned to other facilities in an attempt to address understaffing issues within the state’s prison system. 

With the facility left vacant, the Northampton Commissioners asked in 2021 for the facility to be conveyed to the county for no monetary consideration. The state granted that request later that year, including it as a part of the state’s budget. 

At the time, the county officials said that Odom could be used as a replacement for the current county jail. That facility consists of an “old” portion, which was constructed in 1930, and a “new” portion, which was built in 1992. Its current capacity is 92. 

It appears, however, that the plan to move to Odom is no longer going forward. Bennett said the study revealed that “it would be more costly to renovate the Odom facility than to build a new jail.” 

Recently, the county put out a Request for Qualifications seeking architectural firms to design and develop plans for a new jail facility. 

“We are in the early design stages and are considering a new jail facility with a capacity of 60 inmates,” Bennett stated. “A definite location has not been determined. However, the county is considering possible uses of the available land at the former Odom facility.” 

While the county does not have a planned use for the buildings at Odom, Bennett also told the News-Herald that Northampton County will consider proposals from firms interested in using the facility.