Sheriff Jim Hammond at a press conference on Monday denied mistreatment of prisoners at Silverdale, while saying it has been necessary to "clamp down" during the switch from a private operation back to the Sheriff's Department.
He said, “Most of them don’t like the fact that there’s a new sheriff in town. My first responsibility is to keep the citizens of this community and my officers safe, and then it’s important I keep the prisoners safe. Because of that, it was important that we clamped down on things that were going on.”
Sheriff Hammond said they have done a number of shakedowns on prisoners. He said these shakedowns have resulted in recovering a number of shanks (knives) and contraband material too. The sheriff said these shakedowns will continue to happen “over the foreseeable future.”
He also said the pictures of trash around the facility is misleading. He said the dishwashers and cleaning facilities are still “coming up to speed” and so they have had to use Styrofoam. He said the jail has brought in extra waste bins. He said the Sheriff’s Office has hired extra maintenance workers to try to fix the various issues around the facility.
Sheriff Hammond said no prisoners are going without food, and called such reports false. He said each prisoner gets three meals a day every day. He said the only exceptions would be when prisoners have court or are being taken from one jail to another.
“People who had to go to court or were being transported from one jail to another, I don’t think any of them would starve from missing a meal,” Sheriff Hammond said. “The complaints are without merit.”
He said the jail has signed with a new health program, and said this new program has been “excellent.” Sheriff Hammond said there are three places where prisoners are treated for health needs.
The Sheriff said his office still needs people to fill positions at Silverdale. He said he has had some success in retaining former CoreCivic employees, and has transferred some employees from the downtown jail to Silverdale.
“Right now I’d say we are at least 30 or 40 applications short that we could take just within corrections, and we’d like to fill those,” Sheriff Hammond said. “We cover that with overtime, and sometimes we use patrol. Now the schools are down, so I’ve asked the SRO division to cover the security issues.”
“We have run a jail for many years downtown, so we are bringing that same philosophy down here,” Sheriff Hammond said. He also noted there is a grievance process where prisoners can voice their complaints about how they are treated at the jail.
“Is there a time when things slip through the cracks? Sure,” said Sheriff Hammond. “I have invited the County Commission to tour the facility on this coming Thursday to answer their questions.”