Spartanburg Co Detention Center Still Seeing Improvements After New Training Implemented

Deputies at the Spartanburg County Detention Center said procedural improvements are making positive changes in the way they operate compared to previous years. 

It was in 2013 that Sheriff Chuck Wright fired 4 detention center deputies for what he called inappropriate conduct toward an inmate in 2013. Sheriff Wright says the firings came after a weeks-long internal review found an inmate’s complaint of being assaulted while cuffed to be true.

Major Neal Urch, Director of the Detention Center also said deputies and inmates were getting hurt more often, so in February 2014 Sheriff Wright brought in Captain Joseph Garcia of he United States Corrections Special Operations Group. He provided one week’s worth of specialized training to improve officer’s safety and tactics.

Sheriff Wright was impressed and decided to implement a tier 1 SOG team to implement new, more efficient disciplinary measures, inside of the facility. One of the immediate results was a 50% reduction in the reported use of force incidents inside the facility the first month. 

The changes have also saved hundreds of thousands in tax payer dollars. Some of this money is spent when inmates and deputies get hurt.
“It reduces work
mans’ compensation claims, saves money to the county on lost time, reduces possibility of inmate taken to hospital,” said Urch.

The behavior management unit for inmates who act out is also seeing stateoftheart improvements. The intent of the BMU is to take individuals that have displayed violent tendencies causing harm and to help them by identifying the issues that are affecting their behavior and in turn, showing that inmate their behavior is unacceptable in our facility.

There are three levels in the BMU, red is where the most violent inmates stay and orange is where the inmates who committed minor offenses live. When they can display that they have demonstrated the correct behavior, they can return back into the general population and live as any other inmate would live. 

Inmates are also allowed privileges like more soap, blankets and mattresses when they show good behavior. This creates a type of reward system that encourages good behavior in the future. 

The BMU was also previously used to house those inmates who have demonstrated violent or destructive behavior. At Spartanburg County, the disciplinary unit had become largely populated with those diagnosed with a mental illness.

Now Urch describes more individual and consistent care being provided to inmates with mental illness. Professionally trained counselors now meet with these inmates more often and can provide the medication they need.

Urch said the Detention Center started with 71 inmates and as of June, had 4 inmates return to the BMU with 19 inmates remaining in BMU; which is 2.6% of the inmate population.

Changes will continue over the next couple of years as deputies continue their training and follow state and federal regulations. 

The facility is also using a new type of K9 breed. Giant Schnauzers are calmer and have more controlled personalities than some German Shepherds, Urch said. They can however, be intimidating when necessary. 

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