Weekend Buzz: Jail Given A Pass, Piedmont Report, Ala. Gambling Bag Man

DOJ Closes Book On The Jail

Escambia County Attorney Allison Rogers learned last week that the Department of Justice has closed its investigation of the Escambia County Jail and will not be seeking agreement concerning its findings outlined in a letter in May 2013. Rogers said the phone call came Monday, August 11 and she was assured the decision was final. The county attorney has not received any written confirmation as to why the decision was made and could not comment on the reasons for it.

Inweekly called for a DOJ investigation in May 2006 after the death of Robert Boggon in the jail infirmary. The late Leroy Boyd, founder of Movement for Change, and Susan Watson, then executive director of the local ACLU chapter, later filed a complaint with DOJ when two additional prisoners died. At the time, Sheriff Ron McNesby ran the facility.

DOJ did not begin the investigation until 2009 and spent five years on it. Many of the findings the Escambia County’s Sheriff Office had already corrected, but the most significant finding was that the jail needed nearly 100 more correctional officers.

The letter set up a heated discussion between Sheriff David Morgan and the Board of County Commissioners as to how to increase jail staff. Morgan was in charge of the jail at the time, but the commission approved his funding. DOJ gave Sheriff Morgan and the Escambia County Commission only 49 days to reach an agreement on how it will correct the staffing and other issues at the county jail. Otherwise the Attorney General might initiate a lawsuit.

The BCC took back the jail in October 2013 and began negotiations with DOJ. The Central Booking and Detention Center exploded April 30, killing two prisoners and injuring over 200 people. The cost to replace that facility alone is estimated to be $76.9 million. Prisoners are now being housed in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties at an estimated cost of $10 million per year (it will take a minimum of three years to replace the CBD).

Sheriff Morgan is planning press conference on recent warrant sweep, maybe as early as this afternoon. He may address the DOJ investigation at the end of the press conference.

Piedmont Report Out

Shannon Nickinson has written an article on the engineers’ report on what caused the collapse of Piedmont Road in the Cordova Park area: “More than 15 inches of rain falling in 12 hours on a highly developed 2,430.74 acre watershed spelled the end of Piedmont Road.” Read more.

Ala. Gambling Bag Man

Politico has uncovered a report that detailed an investigation into alleged misconduct by Republican State Leadership Committee officials. The RSLC was established to help the GOP take control of state legislatures around the country. The report revealed that national RSLC leaders conspired improperly with the leader of the Alabama Republican Party to use the RSLC as a pass-through for controversial Indian tribe donations, essentially laundering “toxic” money from the gaming industry by routing it out of state and then back into Alabama.

State Rep. Mike Hubbard, who was also speaker of the Alabama House, raised Alabama money for the national RSLC account, including from the deep-pocketed Poarch Creek Indian Tribe – the tribe that owns the Pensacola Greyhound Track.

Read more.

Early Voting Stats: Escambia County 799 votes cast through Sunday. Per day – Saturday: 633 Sunday: 166