County Jail Administrators Push Back Against Changes To Security, Health Care Standards

Proposal, Meant To Bring Facilities Into Compliance With National Standards, Includes Over 100 New Policies


Some county jail administrators aren’t happy about a plan to rewrite the security and health care standards for running their local facilities.

The current standards county jails operate under haven’t been changed since 1990. Four years ago, the Department of Corrections began the process of updating them to bring them into compliance with minimum national standards. Now they’re before a legislative committee for an up or down vote.

The changes cover more than 100 different jail policies, including increased training for guards on how to manage inmates with mental illness and requiring jails to provide two hot meals a day to inmates.

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Columbia County Board Supervisor Adam Field said the meal requirement seems unreasonable. “I mean, me personally? I often don’t have two hot meals a day,” said Field. “Certainly inmates should be given healthy food. We don’t want to starve anyone. But why have that mandate?”

Department of Correction facilities specialist Nathan White says most of the 72 county jails in the state are already serving two hot meals because they’ve found it saves them money.

“We’re not saying what has to be hot,” said White. “For example, you can have a large vat of oatmeal and it’s just one product. Versus, if you have a cold breakfast, you’re supplying items that might accompany a cold breakfast. We’ve been told by food service professionals that it’s less costly to do that.“

The Assembly Corrections Committee will decide before the end of the month whether to approve the new rules or send them back to the Department of Corrections to make modifications.