The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Detention has completed its 2019 Year End Report. One of the most notable statistics provided in the report is the Use of Force on Inmates as compared to previous years. In 2019, the Bureau had less uses of force than the previous five years. The year noted only 107 total incidents to a population that averaged 641 inmates per day. The numbers show 65 fewer incidents and 9% decline from population to incident comparisons. The numbers shows a decline in every category, but most significant reduction with the use of the restraint chair and physical force. Looking into the numbers, many of the uses of force were to prevent self-injury or resulted from interactions with inmates in crisis.
Sheriff Bill Prummell states that, “There are many reasons that you continue to see a decline in the uses of force. The Bureau actively continues to send Correctional Officers through Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), where they learn to identify inmates in crisis and deescalate situations through verbal skills. The Charlotte County Jail has also utilized the newly built infirmary to create “step-down” units, giving one-on-one Mental Health counseling to inmates as they transition out of crisis and into an open population setting. These proactive actions help to reduce the number of interactions that result in force.”
Another tool that the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office has deployed is the Inmate Communication devices within the unit. Inmate Programs were expanded and online courses were created on the devices. This allows the inmate population to access self-help courses that they previously may not have been able to attend in the classroom setting. Inmates are also able to immediately access pertinent facility information and complete request and grievances from their cells.
The Sheriff states that, “Having a use of force on an inmate is a reality in any jail or correctional setting. Staff must ensure that they maintain the safety of the facility, inmates, and staff. Utilizing verbal and other methods to deescalate situations and maintain security of the inmate population, is paramount to keeping the community safe.”
The proactive steps taken within the jail, paired with the dedication and consistency of staff, makes the Charlotte County Jail a model facility for others in the state, to emulate.