Three corrections officers to watch over 300 inmates is a situation that occurs far too often at the Calhoun County Jail, says Sheriff Matthew Wade, and it's due to the lack of persons willing and qualified to take the CO job — for less than $15 an hour.
The ground-level implication of this deficiency became obvious this past Saturday when a female corrections officer was assaulted in the jail, Wade said Wednesday.
Three to watch 300 sounds bad, Wade said, but due to staffing requirements, that doesn't even mean three sets of eyes watching the cells. Wade explained that one corrections officer must man the watchtower and one must man the booking counter, at all times. He stressed that someone must be at those stations 24 hours a day, no matter what.
That left only one corrections officer to make rounds in the jail and watch over the inmates in the halls.
Saturday, an inmate named Jacob Hammett — who is typically under maximum security due to his bad behavior — was out of his cell for the one hour a day he is allowed by federal law.
But Hammett was "acting out," Wade said, so the sergeant in charge called in a dispatcher to man the front desk so she and the other corrections officer could get Hammett back in his cell. When the officer, a woman in her early 40s, went to tase Hammett in an attempt to control him, she missed, and the Taser leads didn't connect.
"He started assaulting that female officer, punching her in the face like a man," Wade said. "Thank God, he finally quit and went into his cell. He could have kept on and probably got out of the facility."
Wade spoke to the corrections officer who'd been beaten by the inmate and said she was understandably "very upset."
Though the woman came away from the incident without any serious injuries, the underlying issue remains: The jail and sheriff's office as a whole is severely understaffed, according to Wade.
"I don't know what to do," Wade said.
The pay for corrections officers with the CCSO is $14.70 an hour, according to Wade.
"We need people," the sheriff said. "I don't know what it will take to get them."
Anyone interested in inquiring about the position can contact the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office for details.
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