What is one-day-in-the-life of an inmate in the county jail?
On the legendary Andy Griffith Show, Deputy Barney Fife announces to new inmates in his jail in his loud command voice, “Now here at the the Rock we have two basic rules. Memorize them so you can say them in your sleep. The first rule is obey all rules! Secondly, do not write on the walls ...”
Jail rules are designed to maintain order in the facility and protect inmates, staff and visitors. Inmates face discipline when they violate the rules. Consequences include a reduction in privileges or increased lock down time in their cell.
Inmates are classified by corrections staff and moved to general population where the routine of jail life begins. Classification is based on behavior, criminal charge and history, potential for being a victim, gang affiliation, programming needs and the need to be separated because of witnesses in the same case. Eligible inmates will have programs during the day. Exercise opportunities are available most of the day.
EVERY INMATE will experience something called a “headcount” at least six times daily. Area searches, called “shakedowns,” and inmates’ body searches are completed randomly anytime of the day or night to search for contraband. Privacy in jail is nearly non-existent for safety and security.
Breakfast is a cold meal and served at 4 a.m. Breakfast needs to be served this early so that inmates who are going to court will be searched, shackled and ready for transport.
Inmates who had been locked in their cells for the night, will be allowed into their day room where TV, phones and showers are located. If the inmate attends court, they will appear before the judge, then returned to jail, searched, and back to general population.
Visitation is done via video, starting at 9 a.m. and concludes at 9 p.m. Family and friends may go to the jail lobby to visit an inmate. Inmates use a kiosk in the their living area to communicate (video/audio) with visitors, lasting no more than 30 minutes.
A hot lunch is served at 11:30 a.m. Inmates eat their meals in their living area, using the stainless steel tables and stools that are affixed to the concrete floor.
A hot meal is served for dinner at 5 p.m.
INMATES ARE responsible for cleaning their own living areas and certain inmates are used to clean other parts of the jail. I do not pay staff to clean the jail as I believe it is important that inmates clean up after themselves. As incentives, the inmates who have the cleanest areas on a weekly basis, will receive a special snack (typically popcorn) and a movie night.
An inmate who is sick or needs medical attention has access to 24-hour medical care with a co-pay. Medication pass occurs twice daily as the inmate will receive their medications in the living area from a nurse. Only basic and emergency medical care is provided.
Clean clothing, toilet paper and razors are provided to the inmates twice weekly. Lockdown of the inmates into their cells and lights out occurs at 11 p.m. and the process starts all over again with breakfast at 4 a.m.
SOME PEOPLE think the jail is comfort and luxury. The jail environment is concrete and steel. Every move is directed and monitored. Inmates are told when to get up and when to go to bed. No matter how you slice it, jail is not a great place to live if you love freedom. Welcome to the Rock.
Ask-the-Sheriff a question by emailing Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org.