Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bare Bones Job Description

Let me give you a little background on what my job entails -

I work in a high crime rate city. We take everything in from Noise Ordinance violations to Murder and everything in between. Because we are a Municipal facility, anything that is classified as a felony charge is transported out to their respective County (we are split between two seperate counties) and tried in District Court. We also take out of jurisdiction warrants and arrange extradition.

When an inmate is brought into the facility, it is my responsibility to pat them down, inventory their property, change them into proper attire (ie jumpsuit) if necessary, complete a strip search if they are being charged with something drug related, complete an intake medical with the nursing staff, put them into the holding area, and classify them for housing. This is just the intake process.

From that point they sit in the holding area until they can be "processed". Processing is getting a set of fingerprints, their mugshots, and giving them a phone call if desired. Depending on work load and their level of cooperation, this process can take anywhere from 1 hour to 12 hours. The priority is intake, getting the prisoners signed out from the patrol officers so they can get back out on the streets. Processing is a low priority - once they are booked in and in holding, they can and will sit there for awhile if we are busy. My main focus is to get intakes done so the patrol officers can be out on the street serving their communities. Yes an officer's job is to arrest people, but he can't do that very well if he spends six hours at the jail with one prisoner. We strive to get them in and get them out.

Now once a prisoner is processed they are taken to the housing unit. My facility is a complete 24 hour a day lock down. We are a short term pre-trial holding facility, and thus we have no rec yard, library, etc. The inmates are only being held until they go to court, which we must present them to a judge within 72 hours if it is a new charge within our jurisdictions. So since we are a complete lock down facility, our inmates our housed one or two to a cell, dependant on their classifications. Once they arrive in the housing unit, they are issued a blanket, a cup, and a mattress. You would be amazed at how many people are shocked there are no pillows or sheets. I find it funny that a lot of inmates believe they have come to stay at a four star hilton and not a jail. I always tell them - "It is jail; it is meant to be unpleasant and uncomfortable to deter you from coming back." There are very few things I am required by law to provide - shelter, food, and medical care. By law that is the bare minimum I have to provide. We do provide more than that, but people don't seem to realize that it could be a lot worse, and we would be legally justified in doing so.

Once they are in the Housing unit, they are held until they go to Municipal court (next day), are transported to their respective County, or are transferred to a different jurisdiction. Again, this all has to be done within 72 hours, so we have a high turn over rate. The only variation is if someone posts a bond - then they are released with a future court date, and if they fail to appear a bench warrant is issued and they end up right back in the same place.

Now in a lot of bigger agencies, there are a LOT more staffing and an officer is assigned to a specific section - booking, transport, medical, etc. Where I am at, we do it all - from step A to step Z. A lot of officers are surprised to hear this and can't believe it. It is not unusual for me to book someone in, process them, and then transport them to court the next day. Because of that, we are able to build a short time rapport with the inmates, but again they are gone within three days. I actually prefer it that way, as I prefer not to get involved in the inmates' lives. I have a job to do and that does not include getting personal with the inmates. Don't get wrong, I will be polite and professional, but there is a solid "Do Not Cross" line there, and I firmly obey that. I know what my job is, I do it very well, and I will never do anything to jeopardize that.

So that is a pretty basic overview of what my job is. As I post more I am sure it will begin to make more sense. If you all have any questions, please feel free to ask. It is hard to fully express the ins and outs of my job duties in one little post, but hopefully this will give a general idea.

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