Violent Jail Attacks Rise With Number Of Inmates, Sheriff Says
New reports of violent attacks at the Washington County Detention Center have officials blaming the bloated number of inmates at the jail.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office released video Thursday of an inmate attacking a detention officer Dec. 4. The inmate appears to punch the deputy as the detention officer is opening up a cell door. The two trade punches before the officer wrestles the inmate to the ground just under a nearby set of stairs.
(See that video below the story)
The officer received stitches as a result of the attack, but was not seriously injured.
In another video taken a day later, a group of inmates beat up a fellow detainee after they found out the man was being held in jail on suspicion of child sex abuse, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The victim received a broken nose, stitches and bruises, said Kelly Cantrell, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman. He has since been transferred to Delaware County jail in Oklahoma, according to court records.
Among the detainees beating the alleged sex offender is Javaughntaiye Willis, one of the Washington County jail inmates accused earlier this week of raping and torturing another detainee over a 16-hour period.
The fight with the child sex abuse suspect led to Willis being placed in a cell separated from the rest of the population. It was in that cell where Willis and Jdonta Britt allegedly forced another inmate to commit sex acts and drink urine, while assaulting him, according to the Sheriff’s Office. (Read more on that case)
A Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said the jail sees about two to three fights each week. Sheriff Tim Helder told 5NEWS the growing number of inmates at the jail may be contributing to these violent attacks.
“The people here are, by nature, antisocial. A great number of them are violent. I think if we do not get the numbers down, the number of batteries are going to remain high,” Helder said.
The Washington County Detention Center is a 710-bed facility. However, many of the inmates have to be grouped together by specific criteria. Felony detainees are separated from misdemeanors. Men are separated from women. Other separations also exist, Helder said.
The jail houses 581 detainees, up from 470 exactly one year ago. The number of inmates convicted and awaiting transfer to a state prison is 238, up from 85 detainees a year ago, a jail spokeswoman said.
“Our numbers just increase substantially with no remedy,” the sheriff said. “We are not able to get rid of these people because they are in jail.”
The obligation by the jail to house all of these inmates has caused the number of violent attacks to rise.
“Prior to this uptick and this oversaturation of our bed space, our attacks on officers and other detainees were in the teens,” Helder said. “The last six months—63 (attacks).”
The sheriff said the detention officers are not to blame for the number of fights and violent incidences, saying they are doing the best they can do under the circumstances.
“We have great employees that are sold out for this place. They are trying to do the right thing,” Helder said. “They understand the task of the safety and security of this facility, and that means the safety and security of employees. But it also means each detainee that comes in here.”