US Marijuana Party

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Sheriff: Report on jail flawed

Gainesville Sun, FL
Jul 16, 2005

A report on a study of the culture of the Alachua County jail contains erroneous and incomplete observations and information, Sheriff Steve Oelrich said in a written reply to the County Commission.

A key finding of the study was that some detention officers choose certain inmates to enforce rules on other inmates. The enforcers got special privileges in return.

Oelrich told The Sun Friday that most of the findings in the report were nitpicking.

Oelrich said the study was the waste of money that he had predicted it would be.

"I told them that from the word go and the report confirmed that," Oelrich said. "There are things they didn't research well or ask the right questions about."

The study, which cost about $150,000, was requested and paid for by the County Commission partly in response to the reported 2003 rape by an inmate of a University of Florida student serving weekends for a marijuana conviction.

An investigation revealed that the inmate suspected of the assault, Randolph Jackson, had been given privileges by officers including a say in who would be placed in his housing pod.

The study indicated that similar practices are continuing. David Bogard of the New York-based firm of Pulitzer/Bogard & Associates, which conducted the study, reported that one officer said he selected the "biggest bully" in the pod as his rule enforcer.

Oelrich said Friday that detention officers need the help of inmates because of the staffing situation - 60 to 80 officers on any given shift to oversee an inmate population that often exceeds 1,000.


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