The Durham County Detention Facility opened in the summer of 1996 with a capacity of 576 single cells. Designed as a Direct Supervision "New Generation Jail", the building allows for control of inmate behavior by the staff through constant and direct supervision of inmate activities, and the integration of all complex services of a county detention facility. Intake/Release, Criminal Magistrates, Jail Administration, Central Control, Medical, Programs, Staff Facilities, Food Service, Laundry and Facility Maintenance are located on the first two levels. The remaining levels provide inmate housing.
The two-wing configuration of the facility provides maximum separation between detention pods (inmate housing areas), with four mezzanine style housing pods per level. Each of the twelve pods contains two levels of single cells clustered around a dayroom area, with access to the mandated outside recreation spaces of all three housing levels. Two pods are configured with special supervision requirements (one of these special 48-bed housing units is currently leased to house N.C. Department of Corrections prisoners). Also, since the opening of the facility, 160 bunk beds have been added in some cells to increase the facility's capacity to 736.