'60 Days In' shows a facility in need of a major security audit
Corrections is in the midst of a battle to alleviate the negative stereotypes that the public holds to be true
Barbara Williams, one of the participants in the program, summed it up best, “No one is in charge at this jail. The inmates are pretty much running this jail.” And, in my opinion, she is right. Clark County Jail, located in the state of Indiana, is in need of a major security audit. I felt disappointed and somewhat disgusted after watching just the first few episodes on A&E. I was left wondering, “what was the Sheriff trying to accomplish?”
Corrections is in the midst of a battle to alleviate the negative stereotypes that the public holds to be true. Instead of doing something positive and highlighting the profession from a perspective that promotes its evolution, this show bastardizes the profession and shows a facility that has questionable measures of security and, worse yet, a facility that has no supervision over the inmates they keep. Since the public is in the dark about Corrections, the light that has been shined (with the approval of the Sheriff) will be generalized on a national level and will, unfortunately, set Corrections back. So, how can we move forward despite this setback? Let’s remind the public of the proper way that a jail, or prison should be ran. If we don’t, not only will this practice be seen as the norm, but it will eventually become the norm.
Do Officers Even Work Here?
First off, where is custody staff? The mere presence of custody staff can deter a lot of criminal activity, but these pods (inmate’s housing area) seem to have no custodial supervision. These inmates seem to have free reign to do whatever whenever they please (drugs, sex, fights, assaults, etc.). Either this facility is seriously understaffed (which should be addressed immediately by the Sheriff), or they just don’t care (which again, should be addressed by the Sheriff).
In my opinion, to maintain proper security in these pods, there should be at least two Officers on the floor watching each other’s back and another Officer at a safe distance (control point) watching their back. Having three Officers creates a presence to deter criminal activity and provides each Officer with a sense of security so they can safely and effectively do their job. Without the proper custodial presence, there is no way to ensure the safe and secured running of the facility.
What About Security Cameras?
Besides the cameras being used to record the show for A&E, where are the security cameras used by staff to monitor the pods? If they exist, who is watching them?
Again, cameras can not replace staff, but they do add to the overall safety and security of their respected facility. Besides having cameras that feed directly into a location that is immediate to the officers that are supervising the area, there should be another feed that goes to a centralized area that monitors the institution as a whole (command center). This area should be constantly monitored by supervisory staff.
Now, if this facility has a system in play that mimics what’s stated above, then there is either no one watching it (understaffed), or staff must not be doing their job (complacency/laziness/”Just don’t care”). Remember, the cameras are not only used to monitor the activities of the inmates, but partners with the immediate response to maintain safety and control.
We Should Never Go In Alone To Seize Contraband
When Officers look for contraband, whether through routine searches, or targeted searches, they should go in with at least a partner. Seizing contraband from an inmate can easily turn into a quick “use of force” scenario where the Officer’s life is in jeopardy. Inmates have many reason to protect the contraband they are hiding and, in some cases, they will kill over it. Therefore, for a routine search, the inmates who reside in the area being searched should be secured in a separate area. If there are two Officers, one should search while the other one remains vigilant (especially if it is a routine search of a bed area in a dorm). While the search is being conducted, there should be a third Officer in a secured area who can safely monitor the cameras for any suspicious activities.
A targeted search usually has a suited team who search while the unit is lock-downed. The presence of staff ensures a sense of control and provides immediate action if an inmate decides to fight with staff over contraband being seized. Again, for safety reasons, no Officer should be doing any form of searches without another Officer watching their back.
Last week’s episode disturbed me. Staff received word that there was a cellphone in one of the pods (inmate housing area). They received Intel that the inmate uses the phone between 12:30am and 5:30am every night. Now, acting on this Intel, they send one Officer who quickly reports to the inmate’s room and tries to recover the contraband cellphone. On the Officer’s way to the room, the other inmates announce, “5-0 is coming”. This announcement alerts the inmates of custody’s presence. At this point, a vibration is heard in the room, and with no back up present, the Officer and inmate begin to struggle for possession of the cellphone.
Now, where was his back-up before he entered the pod? Does the facility expect the inmates to give up the contraband freely without any form of resistance? That Officer, who went in, on his own, to seize the cellphone, could have easily been killed.
This Place Is In Need Of Better Management
Remember, here is a chance to do something positive for the profession and the Sheriff chooses this topic (corruption) as a defining theme for the show. Eventually, as the show progressed, we saw less about corruption and more about issues that relate to the safety and security of the jail. Issues that management should have been all over to fix.
Therefore, in my humble opinion, “60 Days In” highlights the inadequacies of a poorly ran facility that has no care for the safety and well-being of staff and inmates alike. The Sheriff, before jumping at the opportunity to be seen, should have walked around his facility and made some serious changes. Maybe next time, instead of A&E doing a show that is meant to bastardized the profession, they can can do a show that has value and can do something positive for the profession. Sheriff, I hope you would agree.