County Commission plans to hire consultant to study jail operations

There is an incredible tension between those that actually run a jail or prison and those elected officials that finance and oversee the operations. Professional police and correction organizations have what is called a ‘safe operating level’ which allows for the proper staffing and allocation of bed space by classification officers. Elected officials look at bed space and all too often think that because here is an empty bed that there is no need for new beds.
Not all inmates are equal and to mix various types and grades of inmates is inviting a disaster not only for the inmates concerned but for the jail staff as well. This was the case when a University of Florida student doing a jail sentence on week-ends was put in a max security cell with a dangerous felon and raped. Also, if you don’t keep your jail staffing at full strength what happens is that some positions go unfilled and/or some correction officers are required to pull double shifts. Once the correction officers become less than fully alert, their observation and decision making abilities are compromised. Again, both staff and inmates are put at risk by those that have supervisory responsibility but will not be held criminally accountable if something goes wrong.
Jails are not nice places. Jails are chaotic by the nature of the inmates they attract. They need to be run efficiently and with the safety of all concerned as job one. If the county or state is going to incarcerate someone then they have to do it in a responsible manner. The Alachua county jail has been out of its ‘safe operating range’ almost continuously over the last five years.
The issue that gets lost in the equation of Jail operations and construction is why are there so many in the jail in the first place. We are in a county of some 250,000 residents where 80,000 or so are the best and the brightest students from all over the state. We have an education level that far exceeds that of the state. Our economic engines are education, health and government yet we have 1,000 men, women and children in our county jail.
The full article on the jail can be seen at:
County Commission plans to hire consultant to study jail operations

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