Injuries to jail deputy in attack show risks

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When a Richmond County jail deputy was attacked by an inmate Monday, her only defense was her fists and a reliance on other deputies nearby.

A riot at the Richmond County jail on Feb. 5 sent six sheriff's deputies to the hospital.   Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
A riot at the Richmond County jail on Feb. 5 sent six sheriff's deputies to the hospital.

The cut to the deputy's head and her swollen face highlight the danger faced daily when working unarmed in the Richmond County Jail.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength's administration has considered arming its deputies in the past, but is reluctant to place weapons such as stun guns and pepper spray in the jail. The fear is that the weapon could be snatched from a deputy in a fight and used on the person it's supposed to protect, said sheriff's Maj. Gene Johnson, who oversees the jails on Walton Way and Phinizy Road.

"If we have a problem we try to handle it with man force," Johnson said, adding that there are riot batons stashed away in case of a major uproar.

A case in point was a riot in the jail on Feb. 5, which involved all 31 inmates in a cell block and sent six deputies to the hospital. One jailer was stabbed with a pencil and three deputies suffered broken bones. It started when deputies tried to break up a gambling game, investigators say.

Eight inmates were recently indicted in connection with the incident on charges including rioting in a penal institute, obstruction of a law enforcement officer and 10 counts of aggravated assault for the deputies injured.

The fear of incidentally arming inmates is apparently shared by the Georgia Department of Corrections, which does not provide weapons to its corrections officers, according to a spokeswoman.

Columbia County jailer deputies carry pepper spray, said Capt. Steve Morris, spokesman.

Johnson said recently arrested people are usually the most rowdy, especially if they're still high on drugs or drunk. But there's not much trouble at the jail, he said. If there is, "we put it down pretty quick," Johnson said.

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overburdened_taxpayer
117
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overburdened_taxpayer 04/01/10 - 06:21 am
0
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Never heard of a case of a

Never heard of a case of a prisoner taking away the pepper spray in Columbia County. Not saying it can't be done but inmates have so much more available to them in a jail if they want to seriously hurt or kill an officer. Pepper spray is the least of the worries of things that could be taken and used. Columbia County has their officers in with the inmates all day and night long unlike Richmond County where the officers are seperated from the inmates and observed from outside the block in control rooms unless they HAVE to go in.

Ushouldnthave
0
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Ushouldnthave 04/01/10 - 07:09 am
0
0
Columbia Co has a fraction of

Columbia Co has a fraction of the violent criminals that Richmond has. Comparing the two is like comparing Iraq and the Vatican.

sdrwtcn
0
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sdrwtcn 04/01/10 - 07:18 am
0
0
Give 'um SAWS, grenades and

Give 'um SAWS, grenades and .45's

devgru1
0
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devgru1 04/01/10 - 07:48 am
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0
Columbia County runs it's

Columbia County runs it's jail much differently. They also have plenty of violent inmates. How you treat an inmate directly reflects what their attitude will be.

overburdened_taxpayer
117
Points
overburdened_taxpayer 04/01/10 - 08:08 am
0
0
Proportionally, the ratio of

Proportionally, the ratio of violent offenders is the same. Columbia County does have a better ratio of officers to inmates.

Bumm
0
Points
Bumm 04/01/10 - 01:15 pm
0
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I still think it is

I still think it is incredibly stupid to use women as jailers to watch over male inmates. The dangers that it can create is overwhelming. Women should take care of the women inmates and men should take care of the men inmates. Otherwise it is like using mice to look after cats, it just won't work and will create disaster.

mable8
2
Points
mable8 04/01/10 - 10:04 pm
0
0
As a former correctional

As a former correctional officer, I can attest to the folly of arming the guards with weapons; there are very few officers in ratio to the inmates so that would be putting the officers at further risk. As to women working in corrections, why shouldn't they? devgru1 is right on spot--how you treat the inmates makes a great difference in how they will respond to authority. Understanding that these individuals have committed some criminal act are in jail to pay the consequences is NOT a reason for treating them as less than human. The only COs that I knew who had problems with the inmates were the ones who treated them with a malicious attitude and a self-perpetuated arrogant superiority.

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