People using the video visitation room have peeled number signs off video monitors, peeled letters off newly installed door signs, loosened phone receivers from monitors and dirtied walls to a point that hand cleaning will not remove the dirt from the walls, which now need to be repainted.
Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton is frustrated that repairs have to be made to the two-year-old facility because of disrespectful use.
"The public viewing room is in worse condition than the area for the inmates," Heaton said. "We are making repairs to that area too, but that is because of normal wear and tear, not negligence. The inmates understand that these monitors are their lines of communication with the outside world, their lifelines to their family. They respect that."
A new sign posting the rules of acceptable behavior in the visitation room has also been damaged.
"We had it made to help eliminate any confusion in case someone didn't read the paper outlining the rules when they signed in. It's a brand new sign, but the edges have been peeled away," Heaton said. "There isn't a rule (on that sign) that hasn't been violated at some point."
Heaton said people should understand that rules are in place to protect the safety of the public, the inmates and their family members and the staff at the justice center.
An unexpected benefit of doing the repairs now, according to Heaton, is a few bugs in the video monitoring system will be repaired, allowing for better communication between the inmates and their family.
"Visitation is important for inmates and their families," Heaton said. "Inmates need to be able to see the faces of their children and their family members, but rules are important and have to be obeyed. It is a shame that the public has to pay the price to fix the negligence of others."
Although inmates were instructed to notify their families about the temporary closing before Saturday, some inmates' family members voiced concern over the weekend about the closure.
"There have been a few calls, but dispatchers have explained the situation," Heaton said. "We expect the repairs and the equipment testing to be done before inmate visitation on Saturday, but we are hopeful they will be done by Thursday."