Each month, I have the opportunity to write a column that informs our citizens about a component of our agency and the various measures that are designed to keep our communities safe.
In this column, I would like to share the many different elements of the Brevard County Jail Complex.
The Jail is an integral part of our agency that not only houses a daily average inmate population of 1,350, but is also the primary working assignment for almost a third of our Sheriff's Office employees.
Much like a Naval aircraft carrier, the jail is a city unto itself.
Inside our jail is every component needed to provide a safe working environment for our employees and the inmates, as well. The facility maintains fully functional units, such as medical, mental health, pharmacy, kitchen, records, law library, inmate booking and release, transportation, chaplain and many other functions that are vital to the operation of the facility.
Operated by almost 500 employees and volunteers, each work to maintain the security of the facility and provide a safe and healthy environment for the inmates.
These employees and volunteers serve our community every day in one of the toughest and most dangerous assignments in the law enforcement profession. They not only serve as corrections deputies, but also serve as members of our corrections response team, K-9 handlers, civilian employees and program coordinators.
The Brevard County Jail is also home to various rehabilitative and reintegration programs that are designed to aid in the re-entry to the community.
These programs are primarily facilitated through our volunteers and faith-based organizations.
One of our most iconic programs is "Paws and Stripes" that works in partnership with our local animal rescue shelters to provide a safe haven for rescue dogs, while also helping to develop the inmates in areas, such as responsibility and nurturing. The program has received national attention and has currently graduated more than 220 rescue dogs that have received obedience training. After graduating from the training, the dogs are returned to the shelter, where they are immediately adopted by members of our community. In fact, we have a 100 percent adoption rate, and at most times, have a waiting list for future graduates of the class.
In addition to the above programs, we use inmate labor to offset the tremendous cost associated with the incarceration of inmates.
Currently, almost $10 million a year is expended to feed and provide medical care for inmates within the facility. Even with costs at .58 cents per meal, there is still a tremendous burden on our taxpayers.
In an effort to offset cost and taxpayer dollars, we utilize inmate labor to sew inmate uniforms and bed linens, complete construction projects and provide county facility landscaping. They are further utilized for meal and laundry services to limit cost in every possible way. In fact, we are currently redesigning our structure of inmate labor to increase productivity at the Work Farm and throughout the county.
By re-engineering how we use inmate labor, we hope to eventually grow the needed vegetables for inmate meals, further lessoning the expense and financial impact.
We are also planning to use other inmate service opportunities that will save the county money for various maintenance projects. Not only do these measures save money, but they also serve to provide the inmates with trade training and experience in preparation for release.
I could not be more proud of our corrections team and their commitment to our community. Their professionalism and innovative ideas continue to keep the Brevard County Jail Complex one of the safest and most secure facilities in the country, while operating as one of the most program-effective and financially efficient in the state.
Wayne Ivey is the sheriff of Brevard County.