Sheriff: In 1st year new women’s facility made big difference

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 8, 2017

A year after moving into the new $1.3 million female section of the Covington County Jail, Sheriff Dennis Meeks said that it has been a big help to the overall well-being of the jail.

“We moved in there last June,” Meeks said.

The new facility included 36-beds.

“One section has 20 beds and the other section has 16,” he said.

Last year and in previous years, the jail was seeing inmate number in the 240s to 250s, which was more than the capacity of 180.

With the new addition, the capacity increased to 220.

On Thursday, there were 211 inmates in the CCJ.

That’s only one benefit.

In the women’s dorm, Meeks said the reason one side only has 16 beds is that there is a female nurse’s station.

“There are certain thing that a nurse needs to see a female about that they don’t a male,” he said.

Meeks said that helps make things flow easier.

“We still have room there if we need to increase that population,” he said.

Another benefit, Meeks said that now the women are in their own dorm, it opened up two separate blocks that enabled them to do other things.

“One of the things that has really helped us out with the two separate blocks in the old female section is that we were able to use one for an infirmary for the men,” he said. “We put the inmates who have diabetes, heart problems and any other major problems up there. We don’t leave them in general population. It’s closer to the front and it allows us to watch out for them better and take better care of them.”

The second block is now used for inmates who have been sentenced to serve time in the department of corrections or those who are coming back for court, who are serving time in the department of corrections.

“If someone is sentenced to DOC, we bring them up,” he said. “Or, if we have to bring them back for court, they don’t go into general population anymore. That has really helped us out. They aren’t coming back and going into general population and teaching those guys what they have learned at DOC. That has helped us out tremendously.”

Meeks also said they are taking a more proactive approach in ensuring that prison contraband doesn’t make its way into the jail.

“We haven’t had any drone contraband drops,” he said. “Knock on wood, but I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Meeks said that they looked at contraband issues and corrections officers do daily perimeter checks.

“If say a block is going out into the exercise yard, before they go out, a CO will go out and inspect the exercise yard and make sure that nothing has been dropped,” he said. “That way be make sure there is nothing that they can get ahold of and take back into the jail.”

Meeks said additionally, while the inmates are outside, a corrections officer stands inside the perimeter walking the perimeter watching them.