COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -
After the recent, well-thought-out and planned prison escape out of New York, we wanted to sit down with our Muscogee County jail officials and talk about their security measures on keeping inmates, officers, and residents safe.
The New York escape put a spotlight on facilities across the country as residents feared for their life. Major Randy Robertson with the Muscogee County Sheriff's office explains the intense training here at our local jail is working.
"A lot of safety features inside the jail and of course for security purposes I can't go into everything but you know this is a jail that is inspected annually by the department of justice and by our own teams," Robertson said.
Robertson says their facility has glass walls and security cameras and all of the correction officers go through a lengthy background process before getting the job.
But in New York at a maximum security facility, a three-week manhunt ended with one escaped inmate dead and the other in the hospital after he was shot.
David Sweat and Richard Matt broke out using power tools to cut their way through steel and brick, navigating an elaborate maze of pipes and catwalks and escaping through a manhole outside the prison.
"We have many levels of security on the jail in case that ever happened," Robertson said. "The only time we've only had any escape issues is when trustee inmates that are sentenced to weeks or days in jail for things such as DUI may run off a work detail."
Robertson says because they operate a jail, and not a prison, the only time inmates really move around is for medical purposes or to go to court.
"Many prisons, especially those with shops and work details inside, the inmates have a lot more movement than inside a county jail," Robertson said.
Back in New York, the district attorney says they suspected Joyce Mitchell, a worker inside the prison, smuggled tools to the pair.
"We really emphasize and we try to emphasize not getting close with the inmates detained there," Robertson said.
Speculations of a sexual relationship with one of the escaped inmates also surfaced but Mitchell denied those allegations.
For officers in Muscogee County, fraternization or building relationships with inmates can lead to termination.
But for an inmate?
"Especially if it's cross gender and things like that, the inmate could be isolated in a part of the jail if they violated a written rule and we do have policies pertaining fraternization and grievances filed by inmates and officers if it occurs," Robertson said.
Robertson says residents can come down here to the jail and see how their tax dollars are paying for inside the jail.
Robertson adds many of their inmate programs actually come to the cell blocks.
Their work details inside the jail include food or laundry duties, and there's only a small number of inmates with low level charges who are allowed to do these jobs and are closely supervised by multiple officers.