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Wakulla Times Article--January 2010--Wakulla Detention Facility

The Wakulla County Detention Facility

One of the most important tasks required of your Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office in providing a safe community is that of care and custody of those incarcerated for alleged crimes they have committed. This month I wanted to talk about the importance of this responsibility and the effort we put into making sure we fulfill this responsibility keeping in mind safety and security, the citizens of our county, our employees, and the inmates we are charged with.

As important is our responsibility for the health and dignity of those incarcerated and their families. The Wakulla County Detention Facility and its operations have been fully accredited by the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission since October 2002. The Detention Facility received reaccreditation this fiscal year.

As a member of the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission and its chairman for a number of years, I can assure you that your Sheriff’s Office Detention Facility is at the front of similarly charged facilities in providing a safe and secure environment with a number of innovative programs to hopefully give those incarcerated a better opportunity when released.
We have come a long way since the days of the “old jail” formerly located behind the courthouse. Back then we had some 18 beds. The modern Wakulla County Sheriff’s Detention Facility is a full service facility that averages 300 inmates at any given time during the year.

I am constantly reminded and emphasize with our staff that we are responsible for the health and safety of every person in our facility. I also remind our staff that each of individuals we have mandate to incarcerate have mothers, fathers, and other family and friends that love and care for them. With this in mind, I have initiated a number of programs over the years intended to better the conditions and lives of those making mistakes resulting in incarceration.

Some of those programs include:

Education: the Sheriff’s Office has partnered with the Wakulla County School System to provide high school equivalency education. Ten inmates have received their GED this year while at the Detention Facility.

Education: all inmates are provided weekly access to a law library and other publications.
Personal Health Counseling: all inmates are provided access to Domestic Violence, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous counseling.
Religious Practice: all inmates are provided non-denominational services and are able to practice individual religious practices.

Exercise: all inmates are provided access to physical activity and exercise.

Health Care: all inmates are provided medical and dental care while institutionalized.
The Sheriff’s Office has full time licensed nursing staff members and contracted doctor and dentist services.

Specialized Health Care: all inmates are provided access to a variety of medical evaluations and safe transport for specialized medical evaluation and/or treatments.

Diet: all inmates are provided a selected healthy diet determined by Sheriff’s Office staff and a contracted dietician, including kosher and low salt, low fat diets. With an average population of 300 inmates and trustees, the Sheriff’s Office staff, assisted by trustees, prepare and serve an average of 900 meals each day. It can be said that the Sheriff’s Office is the largest restaurant in Wakulla County.

Personal Hygiene: all inmates are provided a clean and safe environment for personal hygiene including hair grooming and other services.
In addition to these personal health programs, I have initiated other programs that have helped those in the judicial system for a mistake, while lessening the cost burden on our citizens.

Some of these programs include: Work Camp Program: The Sheriff’s Office partnered with the County Court System to provide alternatives to incarceration. Those individuals, who are charged with minor crimes, are allowed to perform short terms of community service hours in lieu of being incarcerated. Such persons, report from their residence daily to the Sheriff’s Office, and carry out work that would otherwise cost the county taxpayers for housing and feeding these individuals.

Work Release Program: this program allows inmate trustees to perform community services, including trash removal, maintenance, repair, and construction projects. Trustees performing these tasks have demonstrated character and ability and further reduce costs to our county.
In 1991, we entered a contractual agreement with the United States Marshal Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house federal inmates. At the time this was a unique and innovative program that has since been emulated in other areas of Florida and throughout the nation. The agreement calls for the Sheriff’s Office to be compensated by the United States Government the cost of housing their arrested individuals.

To date this agreement has resulted in some 24 million dollars of revenue to the County and makes your Wakulla County Detention Facility the most cost efficient detention facility of its kind in Florida. Recently ICE inspectors called the Wakulla Detention Facility a model for others.

We have recently obtained grant funding that resulted in a state of the art electronic visitation system. This system allows for a more safe and secure visitation program for our inmates and their loved ones and legal counsels. It allowed us to expand the available hours inmates can have contact with their family, friends and others.

The Detention Division of the Sheriff’s Office is supervised by Major Jared Langston, with assistance from Captains Jackie Norrman and Randall Taylor. They are assisted by 61 other Detention Deputies, Correctional Assistants, staff and supervisors. I am quite proud of the job these dedicated professionals do every day.

I am mindful that our obligation as a law enforcement agency is to apprehend those who may victimize others. The goals of incarceration has not changed over the years, but has progressed. We are required to protect the law abiding citizens by arresting and incarcerating law violators. However, it has been shown, that through many of the progressive efforts like those we have initiated at the Wakulla County Detention Center, we can rehabilitate those who may violate laws or social norms as well as reduce recidivism.

 

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