This is the first in a three part series regarding the exercise of religion within today’s jails. Decisions whether to allow or restrict an inmate’s ability to exercise their faith requires a balancing between respecting the inmate’s Constitutional Rights and the need to maintain institutional safety and security. No longer can an administrator just say “No”. The rationale for the decision is critical as well as considering alternative ways for the inmate to exercise their faith.
I read with interest the article from Sheriff Terry L. Thompson concerning federal inspections conducted by the US Marshall and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the November/December issue of the National Sheriff Magazine. For many Sheriffs and jail commanders that partner with either USMS or ICE the article detailed situations we have all experienced. Clearly the goal of the federal agencies to insure that their prisoners or detainees are being properly housed cannot be disputed. I believe there must be a better process for accomplishing this goal.
How cool I thought it would be to be a jail administrator,to be in charge of inmates and staff? At first,although overwhelming it was cool,but after a while the reality of the job,the day to day stress,the challenges of getting through daily operations wore me down and I start to wonder,is it worth it? Am I ever going to accomplish the goals I envisioned when I took the position? Am I going to make a difference?
This paper is drawn from a series of articles that have been presented in Sheriff magazine over the past several years. These articles formed the foundation for the Jail Staffing Analysis 3rd Edition book that is the final stages of editing.
Staffing Is the Backstop
While serving as Commissioner of Corrections,and later as Warden of a large urban jail,I negotiated inmate health care contracts with private providers and then worked closely with those providers as they integrated their services into the overall scheme of corrections. It was always a challenge,especially in the jail setting,to educate both the security staff and the medical provider of the importance of working together as a team.
The Gila County Detention Center Inmate Behavior Form was put into place in January of 2004 after many months of discussion with Superior Court judges,our county attorney’s office and the probation department. The form documents the in-custody behavior of inmates who are awaiting sentencing on their charges. If an inmate has behaved poorly while incarcerated,it is reflected in the pre-sentence report by the Gila County Attorney’s Office. On the other hand,should the inmate’s behavior reflect good conduct while in jail,that information also is presented.