Weekend Buzz: Jail story unfolding

More than 26 inches of water in the basement
At the Thursday afternoon press conference, Director of Corrections Gordon Pike told the media that the basement only had 26 inches of water in it. We have talked with the attorney of an inmate that was in the basement on Wednesday morning. He said that he and five other inmates were their getting stuff out of the basement. The water started at their ankles, but within 10 minutes the water had risen to the mid-thigh area. Chief Deputy Eric Haines told the Independent News that the water in the basement may have gotten as high as 10 feet.

Smell of gas, no written reports
On Saturday night, Interim County Administrator Larry Newsom told the Independent News that he had requested from his staff any emails or reports regarding gas leaks at the Escambia Central Booking and Detention Center. He said there were none. He said that his head of facilities, Dave Wheeler, had been told about a complaint of a leak, and he had walked the property on Wednesday and shut off the propane tank. Wheeler did not smell any other leaks. If Wheeler had been told there were numerous complaints, he would have called Pensacola Energy out to the facility.

Newsom that he will cooperate fully with the ATF (Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) investigation and wants to get to the bottom of what happened.

Two Layers of Investigation
ATF has taken over the investigation and has begun questioning county employees. The Independent News has been told that the investigation will have two stages: 1)Determine how the explosion occurred and 2)Should any criminal charges be made.

Injuries, jail overcrowded
Attorneys and families are calling county commissioners and the Independent News reporting that their family members need more medical attention. The Escambia Jail County is packed. Pods designed for 12 inmates have twice that number. In 2012, when the Central Booking flooded, Chief Judge Terry Terrell worked with the sheriff and state attorney to release some of the inmates to avoid relieve the overcrowding.

The Escambia County Commission will get a full report at its Thursday, May 8 meeting.