The statistic, provided to Escambia County commissioners by Corrections Director Tamyra Jarvis on Thursday, indicates how severe overcrowding issues at Escambia County’s jail have become.
The situation has prompted renewed discussions of whether Escambia County’s criminal justice system is working as efficiently as it should, and what could potentially be done to make improvements.
At the meeting last week attended by Commissioners Lumon May, Steven Barry and Grover Robinson, all three said they were open to having conversations about ways to reduce the jail population in both the short- and long-term.
“If we could get 10 percent, 30 percent of them out, that would be huge,” May said.
Commissioners tasked Jarvis with researching other diversionary and pretrial release programs around the country to find successful models that could potentially be replicated in Escambia County.
Jarvis echoed sentiments that it would be worthwhile to see if there were workable alternatives to incarceration.
“As a whole, the biggest benefit is to get them out and get them participating in the community, get them jobs, get them off the street, get them off drugs,” she said in the meeting. “That’s obviously what benefits an entire community, but all of these stakeholders have to be committed.”
Inmate housing has long been a concern in the county, as the Main Jail on L Street is aged and rapidly nearing the end of its serviceable life. The issue was exacerbated in 2014 when the nearby Central Booking and Detention facility on Leonard Street was destroyed in a natural gas explosion, eliminating around 700 beds.
In the time since then, the majority of the inmates who would have been housed in CBD have been divided among housing in the county’s main jail, road prison and work release camp. About 200 have been housed in Walton County at a cost of about $400,000 a month to Escambia County.
By: Kevin Robinson
Published: July 12, 2017