I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Why Not a Tent City for Some Prisoners?

If it is humane for Soldiers and Marines to sleep on cots in tents
as these men defend our freedoms overseas, how is it inhumane for
prisoners who break law to sleep on cots in tents?

Escambia County is rebuilding the jail that exploded in the massive flood of April,  2014. 

The costs are going to be astronomical.

I'm told it could top  $135 Million.

"Why must it cost so much?" has been my continuing question.

Now I'm hearing that the number of inmates our new jail is being designed to accommodate is a number that is less than the number of prisoners we're holding right now! (many of our inmates are being housed in other jurisdictions due to our current jail issue)

So my question, in addition to why the costs MUST be so high, is this:  Why can't we build a compliant jail and also build in capacity for a tent-city outside facility for certain prisoners--to help accommodate what will be a large number of inmates locally?

Now, I'm not saying every prisoner should be housed in a tent city style outdoor, uncomfortable jail.

But many should be, in my opinion. 

And before bleeding-heart types start talking about how "cruel" this would be--remember that right now as we speak there are United States Army personnel sleeping in similar accommodations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other areas around the world. 

Anyone who would call a tent city detention facility cruel and unusual needs to rationally explain to

 me why a tent and a cot is good enough for soldiers who defend us, but not good enough for criminals who defy the rule of law?!?.

I think this sort of an addition to our facility would help deter repeat offenders.  If they knew they would be sleeping in the heat--maybe some of our "frequent flyers" would think twice about selling drugs, beating their girlfriends, stealing from the liquor store, violating probation, breaking into cars repeatedly, driving while license suspended, writing bad checks on multiple occasions, being cruel to animals, etc. etc. etc..  I would suggest that the ordinance describing those inmates eligible for tent city would take into account these key factors:

--Tent city is not for elderly, infirm, or medically fragile prisoners
--Tent city is not for first offenders who have committed non-violent offenses.
--Tent city is FOR those prisoners who have been taken into custody more than three (3) times over the previous 12 month period from the date of the most recent arrest
--Tent city is FOR those prisoners in traditional jail accommodations who fail to conform to jail conduct expectations
--Tent city is FOR those prisoners that jail staff deem violent and abusive.
--Tent city is FOR habitual probation violators or other low-level offenders that are constantly clogging up the system locally.

So again I return to my question:  Who says we can't do this?  I have requested and am awaiting a legal opinion from our attorney and staff about whether or not such a tent city would conform to current state law--and if not, why not.  If state law needs to be changed to allow this, I'll lead the charge to Tallahassee--been there many times over the last 10 years.  It wouldn't be the first time I worked to get a law changed that desperately needed to be revised.  :)

I await the staff response.

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