Staff of the Clay County Jail are implementing new visitation procedures in preparation for the new jail opening scheduled for September of this year.
"The new procedures will make the transition to the new jail easier for staff, inmates and visitors to the jail when the time comes," Sheriff Mike Heaton said of the new policies beginning today.
The old system allowed all cell blocks to visit at the same time, making it difficult for the jail staff to maintain public safety and the inmates' daily routine with so many people in the jail at one time. The new system will limit the number of people visiting while keeping the public out of secured areas.
"It will be better for maintaining public safety and a greater benefit for inmates because this policy will allow for visitation by children," Heaton said.
Visitation is an inmate's privilege, not a right, he said.
It can be restricted for a temporary period of time for disciplinary reasons, stopping an inmate from receiving visits. The restriction period is over only after the end-date set under the disciplinary action.
"It is up to the inmate to notify their family and friends when visitation has been revoked, not ours. But we do post a list notifying visitors in the registration area of inmates under disciplinary action," Heaton said, then added that some inmates refuse their visitation with family for personal reasons. "It's a tough situation for some inmates because their family may be the reason for their incarceration."
Under the new policy determined by a cell block schedule, inmates will be allowed opportunities for visitation with family and friends for 15 minutes during a weekday, and 15 minutes during one Saturday afternoon every four weeks.
People planning a visit must provide a photo I.D. with date-of-birth issued from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, such as a driver's license or I.D. card. Other forms of picture I.D. will not be accepted.
"The rules for visitors are just basic common sense. Jackets, purses, packages and other carry-in items like cell phones and pagers are not allowed to be taken into the visitation area by visitors due to the possibility of contraband being smuggled in. We also request that appropriate apparel be worn during visitation," said Heaton. "Those individuals not following these rules can have their visitation privilege revoked at the discretion of the jail personnel at any time."
There are no age requirements for visitation. But without exception, individuals under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times while in the jail.
"All young children brought to the jail for a visit must be supervised at all times and on their best behavior for safety reasons," Heaton said. "If children are left unsupervised, or are disruptive, they will be asked to leave."
Once approved by the Clay County Jail, visitors begin registration on the day scheduled for the inmate's visitation at 5 p.m. during the week, or at noon on Saturday, until the list is full. When full, visitors will no longer be able to register during that day. Approved, registered visitors will be called back to visit with an inmate in the order of registration.
"Visitation with family and friends for an inmate is extremely important. It allows them an opportunity to keep in touch and informed about their family life, to keep a personal connection that letters and phone calls can not," Heaton said. "Understanding there are people that care and want to support them in a time of trouble is the motivation some inmates need to correct their lives, and not find themselves back in jail in the future."
WHEN TO VISIT:
Changes in the visitation schedule at the Clay County Jail begins today.
The new visitation schedule for inmates will be based upon which cell block they are housed. Inmates will be allowed only one visit during the week between the hours of 5-8:30 p.m. as follows:
|- Cell Block A||Tuesdays|
|- Cell Block B||Mondays|
|- Cell Block C||Wednesdays|
|- Cell Block D||Thursdays|
|- Holding Tanks||Mondays|
Inmates will receive only one Saturday visitation per every four weeks between the hours of noon to 3:30 p.m. Visits will be determined by which cell block and inmate is housed.
|- First Saturday||A Block Inmates|
|- Second Saturday||B Block Inmates|
|- Third Saturday||C Block Inmates|
|- Fourth Saturday||D Block Inmates|