The Department of Corrections is one aspect of County government that many people might think has little to do with them. Most are law-bidding citizens, and nearly all hope they’ll never have any reason to directly interact with our department.
Unfortunately, many people may assume they have an accurate portrait of the Jackson County Detention Center based on what they’ve seen on the movie screen. But Hollywood rarely gets it right.
First of all, our facility isn’t actually that imposing a structure, except there are few office windows in our brick walls and there’s that sign out front: “Jackson County Detention Center.” But let me correct one common misconception right now. Our Detention Center is a jail, not a prison. What’s the difference? You have to have been convicted of a crime to be confined in a prison.
Most of our inmates have only been arrested for a crime and are awaiting trial. They're in the pre-trial phase or in the midst of a trial, and they are presumed innocent. They are in our custody to assure their appearance in court, and we are responsible for their care.
If we have inmates serving a sentence, they've been sentenced to a year or less. Those facing longer sentences are only being held here until they are transferred to another facility.
What the Department of Corrections does, almost always out of sight of the general public, is crucial to the judicial system and public safety. Our courts could not function if we could not detain those arrested for crimes.
In reality, most people who are arrested are booked and released. The bail or bond they post is used as an assurance they’ll later appear in court. Our department is responsible for processing them as well as those who will eventually be detained in the Detention Center.
A big part of what we do, beyond housing, feeding, clothing and providing health care for our inmates, is transporting those we have in custody. We have 30 staff members dedicated entirely to transportation. They must, for example, transport inmates for court proceedings or transfers to other institutions -- all in a manner that is safe and secure.
Safety and security are at the heart of all we do in Corrections. While we try to be as cost effective as possible -- like nearly every county jail in the country, our Corrections Department is funded almost exclusively through local tax dollars -- we cannot and will never compromise our rigid safety and security standards.
A well ran Department of Corrections and well maintained local jail are essential to a safe community.