Jail study: Add training, leadersA consultant advised increasing supervision, training and documentation in a recent report on the Stutsman County Correctional Center.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Editor’s note: This is the second of two stories on a study conducted on the Stutsman County Correctional Center. The first can be found here.
A consultant advised increasing supervision, training and documentation in a recent report on the Stutsman County Correctional Center.
More than 90 pages long, jail consultant David Prachar’s report includes recommendations for comprehensive changes in staffing and operations for the SCCC.
“The recommendations I am making are significant,” Prachar wrote in the report, which was commissioned in spring and presented in August.
While the SCCC will not implement all of Prachar’s proposals exactly as written, administrators have already begun major staffing alterations closely based on Prachar’s work, with operational changes to follow.
Prachar, a former jail administrator in St. Louis County, Minnesota, which built three facilities during his tenure, started consulting in 1999.
His report was based on a May 30 tour of the SCCC as well as data collected by Casey Bradley, Stutsman County auditor/chief operating officer, and Tracey Trapp, the jail administrator.
“I’ve worked here over 20 years, and I guess it’s nice to have a fresh set of eyes, an objective opinion on things,” Trapp said. “… you know, change is hard, but we’ve got good staff, and that’s what really helps through the change process.”
Prachar’s analysis of the current staffing plan was based on information from 2011, and examined administrative, medical, maintenance and custody staff.
Regarding the administrative staff, which includes the jail administrator, deputy administrator and administrative assistant, Prachar noted that there was crossover between the tasks of the deputy administrator and the administrative assistant.
“… it may become evident that other duties may be able to be assigned to these positions,” Prachar wrote.
Sgt. Daren Goter was promoted to deputy administrator and will begin his new slate of duties on Oct. 1. Trapp and Bradley hope to add the duties of training coordinator to his position.
In his report, Prachar also expressed concern that custody officers sometimes do the work of sergeants, but without the pay and without the extra training for that supervisory role.
Prachar found that part-time help was being overutilized at the jail, and that overall, employees had worked an excessive amount of hours.
Part-time hours for correctional officers in 2011 accounted for 19,820.8 hours, compared to 23,403.9 hours worked by full-time employees.
Altogether, correction officers, administration, medical and maintenance SCCC staff worked 62,125.6 hours in 2011, according to Prachar’s numbers, which were based on information from Bradley and an interview with Trapp.
At a presentation of Prachar’s findings, a member of the jail staff suggested Prachar’s statistics could be skewed because three correctional officers were in classes in 2011.
That would mean that their hours were reflected in the consultant’s numbers, but that they were not working in the facility at the time.
Prachar’s biggest recommendation in the staffing area, however, would mark a significant shift in the jail’s operations as well as its staffing.
That change would be establishing fixed posts — specific areas assigned to staff members with specific tasks performed according to a schedule. A staff member would stay at that post until relieved or called away for an emergency, Prachar wrote.
Currently, the SCCC’s only fixed post is its control post. Prachar recommended four fixed posts, with three of them being 24-hour posts and one being a 20-hour-a-day post.
In Prachar’s plan, all those posts would be handled by correctional officers. The county opted to modify that plan and have a sergeant handle one of the posts instead.
Prachar recommended that one sergeant be on duty at all times, meaning that a supervisor would be on duty at any hour of the day.
Currently the SCCC has three sergeants who all work the day shift.
Having a sergeant on duty all the time, plus having a sergeant cover one of the fixed posts, has necessitated the hiring of additional sergeants, bringing the total to six.
Bradley and Trapp hope to promote internally for the new positions and have the posts up and running by Oct. 1.
Prachar also recommended part-time staff be trained to perform transportation duties, and that part-timers should be called in only when necessary.
The new plan, he wrote, would provide for clear roles and duties, provide a basis for staff accountability and could potentially save money over time.
While the consultant did recommend many changes to staffing at the jail, the report also praises SCCC staff, calling them “busy, cordial and efficient.”
reas of major concern
In his operational assessment, Prachar identified seven areas of major concern at the SCCC, as well as 10 recommended areas for change/modification.
* The SCCC policy and procedure manual is dated Jan. 1, 2005, and has not been updated since. In some cases it is not being followed and “it does not appear staff use the manual for direction.”
Prachar recommended the manual be reviewed and rewritten to reflect the operations of the facility, and that staff be tested on the manual regularly.
Trapp said the policy and procedure manual will likely be updated a piece at a time, with each update going before the Law Enforcement Center Board for approval.
* Correctional officers have to make supervisory decisions without training and pay.
Prachar recommended some promotions to sergeant, including training, so that the sergeants’ supervisory coverage is 24-7.
* There are concerns about how facility keys are managed.
Prachar recommended changes in this area, including ensuring all custody staff on duty have functioning radios.
* The SCCC has no formal training program.
Prachar recommended a staff member be assigned as an SCCC training coordinator, likely the deputy administrator, and that a formal annual training plan be created.
“The more training that we can give our employees here, hopefully it will give them opportunities,” Trapp said, “especially in the law enforcement community. Training is always a good thing.”
* Fixed security posts are needed, as discussed in the staffing portion of the report.
* Emergency preparedness plans need to be improved, reviewed and made familiar to staff with training and drills.
* Due to the facility design, visitors have to enter the jail’s secured perimeter.
Prachar recommended implementing video visitation.
Along with his list of areas of major concerns, Prachar recommended a series of other improvements for the jail, such as writing a strategic plan, filing inspection reports, training staff in security procedures and developing an inmate processing classification system.
Prachar also said the inmate orientation and handbook should be rewritten to a third-grade through fifth-grade level, or made into a video, and that a Spanish version should be available.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do implementing this,” Trapp said. “I hope the way we implement this, it’ll make things better all the way around.”
Sgt. Shane Drenth of Stutsman County Corrections said he had mixed emotions about the study, and said many hours would have to be put in in order to comply with it.
“It scares some people, to have to do things so different than they’ve been taught all these years,” Drenth said. “But we’re resilient, so we’ll make it work.”
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at email@example.com