Working with inmates can be a difficult task. With a new Adult Detention Center scheduled to open in early summer, Robert Mulligan’s job as the Sheriff’s Office Corrections and Court Security commander just got a little bit easier. The $27 million facility includes enhanced security measures, a 24-hour magistrate’s office and video link to the Leesburg Courthouse.
"It really is a state-of-the-art facility," Mulligan said.
The new facility is equipped with advanced security measures that come from a central control area Mulligan described as "the heart and soul" of the jail. Everything in the jail is controlled electronically, with touch-screen electronics, an officer down and a panic alert system.
When Sheriff’s Office deputies enter the facility with a criminal, they must drive their car into a sally port, or secured garage with sensors and video equipment. Then, they enter a secure room and finally the jail.
"Big Brother’s watching and that includes the staff," Mulligan said.
In a couple of weeks, the Sheriff’s Office will bring inmates over in small groups at a time to the new jail.
"The sheriff hired some very good people for us, who will treat people like they’re supposed to be treated," Mulligan said.
The Adult Detention Center will replace the 52-year-old jail located on the corner of Edwards Ferry Road and Market Street in Leesburg, which will eventually be torn down and turned into a parking lot, Simpson said.
Approximately 5 to 7 percent of the county’s population ends up in jail. The old jail has 118 beds and is filled to capacity. Approximately 200 inmates are shipped out to facilities across the state, Simpson said.
"Loudoun County is not your typical county," Simpson said. "We’re growing astronomically."
AS OF NOW, the county houses inmates in 10 different facilities. The farthest facility is approximately six hours away, Mulligan said.
The county spends about $1.2 million between transporting inmates and housing them in other facilities, Mulligan said. "It’s something that’s beyond our control."
The New Adult Detention Center will house 196 inmates when it opens in early summer. Simpson said the Sheriff’s Office hopes to bring 40 to 50 inmates back to the county now. Phase two of the project will add over 200 beds to the detention center and is scheduled to be complete in 2011.
The new jail has separate areas designed for minimum-, medium-, and maximum-security inmates.
The minimum-security areas are spacious and sleep about 15 inmates. The television is located in a separate room, to keep the noise down for the men and women who have to get up early in the morning.
The Sheriff’s Office recently added workforce housing to its many programs at the jail.
The program gives inmates the opportunity to learn life skills, like cooking, cleaning and washing clothes, they can use once they get out of jail, Mulligan said.
"Some of these folks have never used a lawn mower before, they have never cleaned their own clothes," Simpson said. "This program teaches them how to do those things. It gives them some confidence so they can go back to the community and work in restaurants and mechanical shops. We see very few of them come back."
The program saves the county $70,000 a year in housekeeping alone, Mulligan said.
According to Mulligan, 99 percent of inmates enrolled in workforce housing complete the program upon their release.
"There’s a lot more to it than just locking people up," Simpson said.
"It’s not what it used to be. It's changed," Mulligan added. "But I like to think we’re making a difference."
THE MAJORITY of inmates will be housed in one of the teal-colored medium-security areas, equipped for 48 inmates to eat, sleep, bath and watch one of two televisions mounted on the wall in each common area. Inmates will be issued earpieces to watch television, to keep the noise down in the common areas.
The rooms are simple; two beds, a desk, a chair and a toilet.
Inmates are rewarded for good behavior in a few different ways, one of which is time outside on the basketball court.
The recreation areas, located directly off the minimum-security areas, consist of one basketball hoop, cement walls and a ceiling made of wire to let in some natural light.
"We really do reward good behavior," Mulligan said. "They’re not all bad people. Some of them just make mistakes."
Some of the housing areas have phones inmates can use to make collect calls and order amenities like fresh bars of soap, candy bars and bags of chips. Most of the inmates come into the jail with money, which goes into an account. The money for the chips and things comes from the account, and goes right back to the jail for programs and supplies for the inmates.
"Once the money’s gone, that’s it," Simpson said.
Maximum-security housing is located down the hall and consists of about 20 single bedrooms off of a common area half the size of medium-security ones. The recreation area is about two-thirds the size of minimum-security housing.
Although the men and women use the same facilities such as the doctor’s office and the library, they are separated at all times by sally ports. The only noticeable distinction between the men’s quarters and the women’s quarters are the colors on the wall.
THE NEW ADULT Detention Center is located off of Sycolin Road in Leesburg.
The Sheriff’s Office will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening for the Adult Detention Center, Saturday, June 2, at 10 a.m. Residents are invited to tour the new facility from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., said Kraig Troxell, spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office.
"We encourage parents to bring their kids," Simpson said. "It can be a very eye-opening experience. When that door shuts behind them, it’s a very distinctive sound."
In addition to the open house, there will be recruiters on site to answer questions about job opportunities with the Sheriff’s Office.