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Leading the Change in Facility Transition

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Magazine Volume: 68 Issue: 5 Dated: August 2006 Pages: 54-57
Marsha Travis
Date Published
August 2006
4 pages
This article discusses the issues confronted by the Davidson County Sheriff's Office (Tennessee) in opening the Correctional Development Center-Female in March 2005.
Prior to opening the facility, the custody of the county's female inmate population was contracted to a private agency due to crowding issues in the 1990s. Users of the new facility had little input in the design. Although the housing areas incorporated the current trend of direct supervision, the design omitted space for many of the support functions needed for effective jail operations. The facility was located next to a facility for male inmates under a plan to share common areas such as administration offices, programming areas, and medical services. Representatives from programs, security, classification, medical services, food services, and administration were all included in the comprehensive approach to delivery of services. Input from all stakeholders was extensive. An innovative feature of the new facility is a housing unit for dogs, who are trained by inmates in basic obedience and socialization for adoption. Regarding staffing, only a few of the staff had worked with the female offenders housed in the county 10 years earlier. Many needed retraining in current issues and laws bearing upon the management and programming for female offenders. Cross-gender supervision and direct supervision classes were mandatory. Preparing officers to maintain posts inside a direct-supervision housing unit was necessary, because the county had never had a facility designed for direct supervision. In order to provide staff protection from inmates' false allegations of misconduct, officers, regardless of gender, are instructed not to enter an occupied room without notifying their partners. The sheriff's department also had to consider the provision of gender-specific programming and policies in the areas of personal property allowances, commissary offerings, medical needs, treatment, and program options.