CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It took less than 24 hours for the sheriff to focus on the biggest issue he's talked about: immigration.

The promise Garry McFadden made was to end the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 287 G Program in the Mecklenburg County Jail.  The program, which drew a lot of controversy, had allowed ice to operate within the jail since 2006.

“It was my promise. It was my promise to the people,” Sheriff Mcfadden said.

Just hours after being sworn in, McFadden held a ceremony to end the program. Since then, the sheriff says he received a number of threats over the phone and in the mail against him, but he says he is “comfortable” with his decision.

The other response he got was from ICE. They say residents should expect a more visible ICE presence in Charlotte. When asked if he thinks his decision will backfire, he responded saying he doesn’t think that will be the case.

“No, my decision isn't going to backfire. ICE needs to do their job on the federal level. I don't think we should talk about what we are going to do in the media or put statements in the media. I'm not going to call someone's name or call somebody out. My office is open,” he said.

He says his next big project is solitary confinement, which he says ideally he wants to put to an end.

“We're going to modify it. We're going to modify it in the first 100 days,” he said.

Also what will be changed is how families visit inmates. He says video visitation will still be available and in-person visits will return. It's one of many changes the sheriff plans to make.

“After a couple years I want it to be different. I want to take away the word jail. It's a detention center. It's almost a rehabilitation center,” he said while walking the inside the county jail.



The sheriff doesn't just want to rethink what the jail is called, he says he wants the people inside to be thought of differently.

“You take the word inmate out of it. You maybe take the word incarcerated out of it. You have to change to change the language and maybe that will change the culture,” Sheriff McFadden said.

He says while the culture isn't necessarily bad inside the jail, it needs work. Five inmates have died since May. Some were heroin overdoses. Some were by suicide. Sheriff McFadden says fixing the problem will mean having staff talk more with inmates. 

RELATED: Wife of Mecklenburg County Inmate Concerned About Jail Conditions

“Imagine having one staff member for every 10 persons on that floor. Just to have that conversation with them. It sounds crazy. It sounds expensive. They're here. It's expensive, but they're here. What are they doing besides checking beds, checking rooms, so give them another thing of having conversation with a person already here,” he said. 

Before McFadden was sworn in, he went overseas to see how other countries treat inmates. He says it's given him a new perspective. Here in Mecklenburg County he plans to launch a barber shop, a culinary school and even hold job fairs for inmates. It's a solution he says to cutting down recidivism.

“You have them employed before they leave here,” he said.

Getting people to stay out of jail is why he plans to regularly visit schools which could avoid situations like the deadly shooting at Butler High School.

RELATED: Students, Law Enforcement Talk Bullying After Deadly School Shooting

“It's a lot of violence on TV. A lot of violence in the community and people feed into it. I want to have the conversation with the kids, with the students, we just talk, circle of trust, tell me your feelings,” he said. 

McFadden says he's already visited one school and plans to continue meeting with students. These are steps he says will shape his term and create a department and a jail that will look a little different than it does today.

“I'm doing my own thing now,” he said.

Get the latest news, sports and weather delivered straight to your inbox. Click here to sign up for email and text alerts.