Woodbury County Sheriff: Multiple safety measures in place to prevent jail escapes
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
As coverage of two escaped federal inmates in New York dominated the news over the last few weeks and now a recent situation happened closer to Siouxland, some jails and prisons are concerned about people trying to flee.
Woodbury County has only had a few attempts over the last few years since the jail and law enforcement center opened in 1987.
"We've had it where they're going to attack myself or a lieutenant and going to hold them hostage and try to get out," said Woodbury County Major Greg Stallman. "It's never happened, but we've been given that information. The biggest one is they try and dig out of the block wall and usually they don't get very far."
The Woodbury County jail houses about 230 inmates, both county and federal prisoners.
Law enforcement officials say there is a higher chance that federal prisoners will try to escape since inmates with shorter terms don't want to risk staying longer.
But the county takes precautions just in case.
"We do what are called shakedowns," said Stallman. "That's where we go into the sections and make sure everything is where it is supposed to be, all the fixtures are attached the way they're supposed to be attached and you're looking for anything out of the ordinary. The other way is we try to develop a relationship with the inmates where the inmates will tell us when something like that has happened."
Woodbury County also has a specially trained RISC team, which stands for the Resistive Inmate Security Classification team.
The team handles incidents beyond the scope and training of correctional officers.
And the precautions don't stop there.
Officials at the Woodbury Law Enforcement Center say there haven't been many escape attempts and one thing they attribute that to is advancements in technology.
"We have a large screen TV that includes three shots in it," said John Nelson, district associate judge. "It has audio that runs up to the jail and then down to the courtroom. And then the video, you can see anybody that's there for the court in the courtroom. You can see the judge's bench and the judge. And you do the jail now in the booking area so the defendant can hear the judge."
The use of video court allows judges to have trials with inmates inside a bond room without ever leaving the jail.
Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew has one message for those trying to escape.
"You know one thing about it is, you can get out but you will be pursued by law enforcement and you will be captured," said Drew. "That's been the proven fact."
Drew says there is a lack of manpower at the jail to watch over inmates.
?But regardless, he says they have been able to keep the jail safe through all their different efforts.