An inmate walking unsupervised down a corridor at the Mobile County Jail, back in January 2015, went into one of the jail offices, and out of nowhere, started assaulting a guard.
The corrections officer was clearly caught off guard as he was busy doing paperwork and the office door was wide open. Another guard had to rush in to help subdue the inmate.
The inmate had been returning from the clinic unsupervised because he was considered non-violent. More than a year later, officials at the jail say it’s still not clear exactly why he attacked the guard. Their best guess is that he wanted to steal the uniform to try and escape.
The most serious charges against him before this incident were harassment and stalking, according to AL.com.
The jail warden says that incident was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Changes had to made, he said, because he was losing a lot of good employees due to the hostile work environment — as he found out during exit interviews.
So, Warden Noah Price Oliver, says they came up with a 5-point plan to be implemented gradually over time, including: changing how inmates move around the 1/4-mile facility.
All free movement was shut down with the exception of inmate workers who are in for minor offenses and help out with daily chores. Everyone else would be escorted or restrained, he said.
Other changes included an 11am-2pm “cool down period” for inmates, so that officers could get breaks on their 12-hour shifts. Additionally, they removed some in-jail classes, restricted certain types of mail, and cut visitation down to once every 2 weeks.
Oliver says he’s very pleased with how the changes are going and already they are seeing a difference. Last year there were 17 assaults on officers, and so far this year, there have been zero.
He hopes the safer, less stressful environment will attract more new employees to join their 250-on staff there now.
Oliver estimates a 20-30 % drop in use of force incidents this year. In 2015, he says there were 44 instances where officers had to use force against inmates.
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