In a story last week The Herald reported about an individual who was out on a jail furlough when he was arrested for another violation.
This is a follow-up on the furlough program now in force at the Gadsden County jail.
According to Sheriff Morris Young, those who were allowed on furloughs must be sentenced to the jail and have earned the right to receive the furlough.
The past administration, he said, allowed inmates to be furloughed for as much as a whole weekend.
Young stated that he only allows eight-hour furloughs.
According to Captain Henry Miller, only those inmates who are not seen as a threat and who have earned points through work outside and inside the jail, can be considered.
If they mess up, he explained, as did the inmate in last week’s story, their rights to further furloughs are removed.
One of the major problems now at the jail has been overcrowding of inmates.
The jail was originally built to house 156 inmates. Very seldom does the inmate population fall below 200 and at times in the past it has ballooned to in excess of 250.
If the inmates earn the right for a furlough and have met the criteria, then it gives them both an incentive to do right while they are in jail and also to get a chance to be with their families for those few hours.
In addition to the furloughs, Major Robert Barkley stated that the jail has instituted a re-entry program to help inmates and ones awaiting trial to start learning a trade.
“We use inmate trustees all over the county,” he stated, “where they are learning how to do repairs, yard maintenance and painting and may be able to find work in those fields once they have finished their sentence.”
Inmates also have the opportunity to work on their GED while in jail, he said.
Captain Vincent Crump said the bar was set to keep any violent inmates in the jail and they do not qualify for the furlough program. It is primarily for trustees who have earned gain time (early release).
He explained that inmates are also tracked when they leave and, if necessary, a deputy will check and make sure they are where they said they would be.
Another part of the criteria for the furloughs is that a community member must vouch for the inmates before they can be released.
Each inmate is required to submit to a drug test before they can leave. When they return, they are searched and must again submit to a drug test.
“I am proud of what we are doing here,” Young said of the furloughs.
There is a jail tour and open house planned Wednesday for the facility which will be covered in next week’s paper.