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Sharing ideas and information through the Large Jail Network.

Populations of large jail systems are growing faster than any other segment of local detention. Data from the 1991 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics' jail survey shows the nation's 25 largest jails had average daily populations ranging from 2,076 to 20,779 inmates. Out of about 3,300 jails nationwide, the NIC Jails Division has identified about 75 systems with populations of 1,000 or more inmates.

To help these jails meet the challenge of managing such large populations--frequently under crowded conditions--in 1989 the Jails Division began the Large Jail Network Bulletin. In 1990, the Jails Division expanded this effort by hosting a series of networking sessions in Denver for Large jail system administrators.

The assumption underlying the bulletin and the network is that large jail systems administrators collectively possess all the expertise and experience necessary to deal with any issue that may arise. Problems faced by one jurisdiction probably have already been solved or are being addressed by another jurisdiction.

The network meetings focus on peer training. Participants select the topics for each meeting, and the program consists of presentations by experts in various fields and peer presenters. Two network meetings were held during 1992, and two are planned for 1993.

In January 1992, 41 participants met to discuss their approach to issues such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, contracts for food service and medical care, use of force and the employee disciplinary process.

Chief Richard Bryce of the Ventura County (Calif.) Sheriff's Department described how his department examined options for providing medical care and why they decided to contract for medical services. Dr. Donald Amboyer of the Macomb County (Mich.) Jail described how his county charges inmates for medical services, dental services and pharmaceuticals. And Robert Kornegay of the Maricopa County (Ariz.) Detention Bureau showed a video produced by his agency recording actual use of force by bureau officers. He described how using videos allows objective assessment of incidents.

In July 1992, 42 participants attended the Large Jail Network meeting, which focused on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Consultants reviewed the ADA and described relevant legal issues. Participants discussed how they are addressing employee and facility issues. Lt. Joaquin Herran of the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department provided a guide outlining how the city is responding to the ADA's employment requirements. He demonstrated how other jurisdictions can use the guide to develop essential-function questionnaires and position descriptions.

In January 1993, a record 61 people attended the Large Jail Network's meeting. The program focused on ways agencies can cope with bloodborne and airborne pathogens. A consultant described tuberculosis and issues to consider when dealing with TB. Peer training centered on how medical departments of large jails deal with bloodborne and airborne pathogens, what infectious disease training programs they are developing, and how they are developing exposure control plans and dealing with rising health care costs.

Dr. John Clark of Los Angeles County and Dr. Ernest Williams of Orange County, Calif., described programs their agencies have developed to deal with these diseases. Joe Payne of the Jefferson County (Ky.) Corrections Department distributed copies of his department's Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control Plan.

Large jail administrators have identified the Large Jail Network as one of the most beneficial programs available. Since its inception, the network has provided a learning environment where administrators develop a cohesive relationship that allows them to collectively share ideas and information.

Linda Cumbie, a former correctional program specialist for the NIC Jails Division, was coordinator for the Large Jail Network while on loan to NIC from the Seminole County Sheriff's Department, Sanford, Fla.
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Title Annotation:NIC Update
Author:Cumbie, Linda
Publication:Corrections Today
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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Next Article:The Persistent Prison: Rethinking Decarceration and Penal Reform.

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