How many people go to jail in Buncombe County?

Daily intake from arrests varies from one day to another, but based on the first six months of 2022, about 15 people on average are booked into the jail every day.

Before the pandemic, the Buncombe County Jail had a total capacity of 604 beds (96 women and 508 men) between the main facility and a lower-security dormitory-style annex. Since the annex was closed in 2020 for safety reasons at the beginning of the pandemic and one of the female dorms was converted to a male, the actual current capacity is now 524 beds: 56 women and 468 men can be housed at any given time [1]. The actual population varies over time, but in 2022 has averaged somewhat under 450. Most of these are pre-trial (about 85%), with a few federal detainees or people serving short sentences (under 90 days).

In the next few posts we’ll look at who gets booked into jail, how long they stay, and what they’re charged with.

For now, suffice it to point out that the vast majority of people arrested and jailed are released pending trial within a few days. That is by design in the first place. Unless there is a strong reason to believe that someone is actively dangerous or a flight risk, there is a strong preference to release people prior to conviction since they are considered innocent until proven guilty.

There is an obvious practical consideration as well. At 15 people per day we would fill the current capacity of the Buncombe County jail about every 5 weeks, for a total of over 2500 people in just the first six months of 2022.

[1] Since the female population has been rising, the female dorm that was converted may transition back – see this January 2022 presentation to the County Commission.

You can find some of these numbers on the Buncombe County Detention Facility Dashboard. Much of the analysis here and in future posts is based on daily early morning downloads of jail data from the Buncombe County Police to Citizen dashboard, starting on January 3, 2022. If you want to perform your own analysis or check my work, you may download the data from daily_bcdf_occupants.csv and daily_bcdf_occupant_charges.csv. These files are updated with the latest data each day. Names and docket numbers are not included, but the occupants and their charges are related by the id and defendant_id fields, respectively.

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