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Mades says jail run like 'pretty good ship'

June 10, 1997


Staff Writer

Washington County officials met with U.S. Department of Justice attorneys Friday to discuss alleged deficiencies at the Washington County Detention Center, officials said Tuesday.

The Department of Justice wrote the county in April alleging constitutionally deficient conditions at the jail, and gave the county 49 days to correct the deficiencies or face a possible lawsuit.

Washington County Sheriff Charles Mades said the main issues that remain are suicide prevention and health care.

A National Institute of Corrections expert is due to evaluate the jail's suicide prevention measures at the end of June, Mades said.


The National Commission on Correctional Health Care will look at the jail's health care.

The Department of Justice will visit the jail again in three months to check on progress, Mades said.

"We're not going to change an awful lot here," he said. "We run a pretty good ship."

Justice Department officials have charged the jail with having inadequacies in suicide prevention, AIDS and other health care, hygiene, access to courts, and sanitation in the female housing unit.

Several of those issues have been addressed, Mades said. "The drains drain, the hot water is hot, although it may not be at the pressure they expect," he said.

Mades said the officials were satisfied with the jail's outdoor recreation in warm weather months but said they wanted inmates to have opportunities to go outside in the winter as well.

As for health care, national accreditation is a requirement of the county's contract with PrimeCare, which provides health care for inmates, said County Attorney Richard Douglas.

Mades said the process hasn't been all bad for the jail.

"Any time somebody comes in and critiques your operation, it has the potential to make you a better manager," he said.

Some factors were beyond the jail's control, he said.

The jail had three suicides between Aug. 24 and Nov. 16, 1995, and four serious attempts since then, according to the Justice Department's letter.

"Nobody can control suicides," Mades said.

The Justice Department's public relations office did not return phone calls Tuesday.

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