Brief History: DOJ finished its five-year of investigation of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and the jail this past May. Sheriff Morgan estimated that it would cost $15 million comply with the DOJ report, which prompted the Board of County Commissioners to take back control of the jail, effective Oct. 1, 2013.
The DOJ Settlement Agreement says that all existing vacancies, both funded and authorized, must be filled and has a phased approach for the remaining 100 positions required:
Year 1: 30 detention staff added
Year 2: 30 more
Year 3: 20 more
Year 4: 20 more
On Mental Health care, county must have Mental Health professionals available either in person or by phone 24 hours a day. It must have two psychiatrists work at the jail, each for at least 32 hours a week.
The initial mental health/suicide screening is more extensive and must take place within four hours of booking.
The reporting requirements on all parts of the agreement are strict. The DOJ and county will select a monitor to oversee implementation of the agreement. The cost of the monitor and his staff will be borne by the county. The court will have to approve any termination of the monitor.
Interim County Administrator George Touart told the Independent News that the County Commission will discuss the agreement at its January Committee of the Whole. He sees the letter as the first step in the county’s negotiations with DOJ on the jail.
In an email, dated Dec. 17, to the commissioners, County Attorney Alison Perdue wrote:
Attached please find the initial draft of the proposed settlement agreement sent to me by the counsel at DOJ regarding the Escambia County Jail. Please know that staff will be reviewing the proposal. I am awaiting a return phone call form the attorney and will ask about timelines and other details of the proposal. I wanted you to be aware of the initial proposal, especially the staffing recommendations, as soon as possible. I plan to get with Mr. Touart as soon as possible today and will be meeting with Gordon, Commander Whitlock and others to discuss appropriate counter-proposal recommendations.