Once the new Logan County Detention Center opens, which is tentatively scheduled for April, when one visits it will be impossible not to be caught on camera.
“There are over 200 cameras in here,” Logan County Sheriff Jason Massey said Friday during a walk through at the acility.
A server will archive the feeds which are available live in multiple locations, including Massey’s office.
You can’t really blame Massey for getting excited about the opening of the new center. The cameras are just the tip of the iceberg – this facility is nothing like the oft cited for being out of compliance existing detention center.
“It’s definitely a long way from where we’re at now,” said Massey. “That’s why we’re so excited to get in here. There’s just so much more we can do.”
Unlike now, there are interrogation areas that will allow a suspect to be interviewed behind a closed, secured door. Of course the conversation is captured via camera so anyone looking for a two-way mirror will not find one.
When an inmate gets a visitor, the conversation will not occur face-to-face, it will instead be streamed through a monitor and a phone. Currently, visitors are separated by glass with conversations occurring through telephone receivers.
That will also be the case with attorneys as well as they will stay out of the locked portion and the inmate will remain secured wtih conversation occuring through telephone receivers.
There are also cameras in the individual cells Like the cameras there are scores of doors.
“Notice the different doors,” Massey said. “There’s multiple doors all over the place for security.”
Security for deputies, the inmates themselves, and the support staff.
Moving about the jail will require extensive use of both the cameras and doors.
Cameras will be used to identify anyone wishing to travel between areas within the jail, which will allow those operating the doors to allow the doors to open, or not.
A sticking point during the design portion of the project, the jail contains a courtroom which features a single public access.
Included in the courtroom area is a conference room for attorneys, and a locked, encased area for inmates that allows them to see and hear the proceedings, and be taken out if needed. Or not.
“If you’ve got an inmate that is acting out of control, if you’ve got the door shut he can yell all he wants to or we can take them on back (to the cell),” said Massey. “We can’t do that in Booneville.”
Though it will become home to court proceeding for the Northern District – the Southern District will remain in Booneville – the room is far from spacious.
That enhances security as well.
“I know there’s limited seating but it’s not very difficult to call people from out in the lobby and say, ‘hey your case is up next,’” said Massey.
In a worst-case scenario the bench area is steel plated allowing for judges as much security as possible.
Other areas, for instance the dispatch area, is completely self-contained with its own restroom and kitchenette, Massey explains.
Besides personnel, the jail is designed for the security of evidence. Deputies will bag evidence and place the items in lock boxes that, once opened and closed, can only be opened by the evidence officer with access to the opposite side of the locker.
“If you have a weekend you might have three different deputies put difference pieces of evidence in there so with all these different lockers, it’s all separate and all logged,” said Massey.
That should prevent contamination of evidence and resolve any chain of custody questions.
I the jail area an inmate acting up can be pretty much sequestered to his cell and permitted one hour of exercise time alone while other cells are locked, which is completely impossible now.
“If someone is being bad in our jail now, there’s not really much we can do to them,” said Massey.
The inmate area, which contains eight cell blocks, also includes a multipurpose room which will be used for GED classes and other purposes, as well as a medical treatment room Massey said.
Behind each of the pods of cells are access chutes for anyone who may need to maintain plumbing, duct work, electrical, air conditioning – or the cameras – keeping workers away from prisoners.
The cells are all visible from a tower, where all the doors are remotely operated to allow access to the “exercise yard.”
Though enclosed, the yard allows natural sunlight from above and a louvre that allows for fresh air. There are cameras in the yard as well.
“No more trying to throw drugs or other things into the yard,” said Massey.
Alslo, the yards allow a place for inmates cto eat lunch, have their exercise time and watch television, satisfying a requirement they have access to news.
Rather than give prisoners a physical paper they can use to cover cameras or make a mess.
The cells also allow complete separation of genders, which is not the case now, though it will create a few more steps for some males on the way to their cells.
Access to the inmates is also via a door, of course, to which the inmate has no control because the door slides rather than opens. Like the judge’s bench, the shell of the cell is steel.
“In our current cell they like to pick the mortar and the brick and chip it out and put stuff in there. This is steel,” said Massey.
Before reaching the cells arrested individuals will first come into a central booking area, which also has holding cells for those who are expected to bond out immediately or those accused of a misdemeanor who can be held separate from the general population.
One of those cells has a drain for when someone needs washed down first.
“In our current jail, these are permanent cell because there’s no room,” said Massey.
In the case of those bonding out, bondsmen and the accused also have no face-to-face contact, which creates an inconvenience for jailers who will have to pass paperwork between the individuals.
The central booking area also has an interrogation room, the third of the facility.
Despite all of that, Massey said his favorite room is the Rick Lowe Training Room complete with a smart board.
“We’ll be able to do our own classes, have our squad meetings, jail meetings. We don’t have a place for that,” said Massey.