As plans for the new Wichita County jail get underway, more training is in the works for corrections officers who will work there.
Direct supervision jails focus on actively managing inmate behavior to produce a facility that is safe and secure for inmates, staff, and visitors.
But officials said the key to making this new type of supervision successful, is the proper training for corrections officers.
Lt. Ian McMurtrie said as soon as the jail bond was approved by Wichita County voters, the first thing on his mind was training.
“Direct supervision has been a philosophy for a long time and there are multiple studies showing that is not only safer for the inmates, but safer for the officers,” said McMurtrie. “And it’s simply a more humane way of doing it.”
Direct supervision combines two key elements: the physical design of a jail and an inmate management strategy to significantly reduce the problematic inmate behavior commonly seen in jails.
“There’s also going to be hard side jail where there’s nothing but concrete walls and steal doors, that’s for the inmates that have behavior issues,” said Wichita County Sheriff David Duke.
But for the majority of the inmates, there will be no barriers separating them from the staff in the housing units.
“He’s in direct control of the pods,” McMurtrie. “He will be walking around like I’m talking to you, he’ll be talking to inmates. He can head off the problems, stop the fights before they happen, stop the assaults before they happen. Instead of observing what’s going to happen on the far side of the bars, he’s in there.”
This new role for the corrections officer will come with some much needed training and Lt. McMurtrie wants jailers who have worked in direct supervision facilities to do that training.
“If you send them to somewhere with officers that have done this for 20 years, and in the past 20 years they have done every conceivable thing has ever happened in direct supervision, when you get those odd ball questions they say yes this is how this happened and this is how I handled it. Whereas book learning, you don’t get that,” McMurtrie said.
He said the more intensive the training, the more it will cost the sheriff’s office, but he said ensuring the corrections officers are properly trained is priceless. And he said he hopes to begin training six months before they move into the new facility.
McMurtrie also said they will be looking for new corrections officers as well, if you or someone you know is interested in applying, click here.