Looking back now after three years of leaving Henry County I am very pleased with the continued participation of the Jail Administrators across the state. My decision to leave was a tough one but I left with full competence in my endeavor with the JailTracker Software group. From my years in the corrections and business, I was able to see the operational and procedural issues that no matter the size of the correctional facility we all face. We are in a time where we have to educate ourselves and our decision makers that we have to make decisions that are best for Jail Operations. The vast number of lawsuits and staff issues are at the Jail Division level verses Patrol or Dispatch, but there is generally little that has been “changed” in the mindset of how we train or the tools we give our jails. It is time Sheriff’s and Jail Administrators that we start another movement and that is looking at Jail Operations solely in its best interest. I was very fortunate to be partnered with a Sheriff that was willing to let me run the jail division as its own entity within the Sheriff’s Office and to identify “CHANGE” opportunities and implement. As Jail Administrators you are constantly surrounded with “change” situations and need to be able to see those opportunities and weigh the pros and cons to whether an operational or procedural change is needed. Empowerment is another key concept that is talked about but is rarely implemented to its fullest. Sheriff’s I would challenge you to empower your Jail Administrators to have as much control over the operations of the jail as possible, include them in those hard budget talks, educate them on the whole operations of the sheriff’s office, and make the jail division feel as equal to the other operations of the sheriff’s office.
The challenges I see facing our jails currently are staff training, operation support and help, and general perception of “it’s the jail or their just jailers.” Training has and is a constant topic across our state especially when it comes time to training civilian jail staff. Operational support is anything from old outdated security and electronics to hand me down radios and duty gear from the road. Operationally speaking as well is not giving the jail the best inmate booking and management software options. As a former Jail Admin and person who has been named in a couple of lawsuits being able to properly document inmate activities is a huge error most jails are severely lacking and losing money in lawsuits because of this failure of their RMS that has a basic Jail Module. Lastly the old mindset and feeling around the office of the Jail being the last on the budget and needs list of the agency. This has vastly improved over the last few years but still in most departments the K-9 program gets more consideration than the jail does.
In closing I applaud the Jail Administrators that started this movement with me about 6 years ago and have gotten our voices heard. It is great to see the turnout and vendor support at our conferences as well.