JCSO Citizens’ Academy visits jail

This week’s Citizens’ Academy went on a field trip to the Jackson County Jail. I had never been to the Jail before so of course I parked in the wrong place and had to walk a ways. Still not sure of where I was going I met a gentleman in a wheelchair and asked him if he knew the way, “of course he said, I just got out” and he did, indeed, send me in the right direction.

Once we were all gathered for our tour we were introduced to our tour guide, Sergeant Joshua Aldrich, Corrections Division’s graveyard shift supervisor. Sgt. Aldrich gave us a little background information on the jail, warned us that the prisoners are not always predictable on how they will behave with tourists and then we headed out.

Our tour started in the caged area where a vehicle would come in to deliver a prisoner and then right into the booking area. From there we went to learn about the different clothing and other items assigned to a person once they are booked. The jail is run by the Jackson County Sheriff’s office but  many agencies use this jail, all the local police forces and the US Marshall’s office. The JC Jail can house up to 230 inmates, although sometimes forced releases happen even when the jail is not quite full because of the ratio of male-female holding cells.

After touring through the holding areas we were asked to help search one of the cells. Each cell is searched on a regular basis to keep the prisoners and deputies safe. The search consisted of checking all the bedding and personal belongings of each prisoner in the cell. The only items we turned up were a few pencils and cards that had been modified. The rules state that the prisoners can only have items that were assigned to them and the items must remain in their original form, they cannot be modified in any way. The cells do have a TV and a phone but glamorous they were not. Both the televisions and the phones can be used as disciplinary tools. They can be turned off at the control room if need be.

Next we got to experience a “pat down”. A deputy hid weapons and other items that would not be allowed in the jail and we were challenged to try to find them on this person via a pat down. I found seven out of nine items, very surprising what can be hidden on ones body and not be easily found. We then learned how to do a good and useful fingerprint , not a easy as it looks.

Our final experience for the evening was the opportunity to interview a prisoner who has been incarcerated in the Jackson County Jail for over 4 years now. We learned about how he has been handled and his experiences and how the rehab he has been through will help him once he is on the outside once again. He had all good things to report and has a good and positive attitude about his future.

One of the things that did really impress me about the jail was how clean it was, and inmates keep it that way. All the laundry, cooking and cleaning is done by inmates. The jail does have a commissary, a library and a law library for use by prisoners. The law library is for those who choose not to have a lawyer but to represent themselves. Overall the tour of the jail was very enlightening as I have always heard how spoiled our inmates were, I would tend to disagree after seeing first hand what their life is like while in jail.
By Kathy Sell
Of the Independent

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