The Sarasota County Jail remains one of the most progressive and innovative correctional facilities in the state of Florida. With daily operations requiring 140 deputies to manage the care, custody and control of an average of 950 inmates, the safety and security of the facility is no easy task. While the division prides itself on efficiency, professionalism and overall safety, modernization of the correctional setting has taken their day-to-day functions to the next level.
Offering more than 75 specialized programs and services to inmates, the Courts and Corrections Division recently formalized their Inmate Program Coordinator’s Office which helps manage the nearly 700 weekly requests for various types of services from attendance at recovery and devotional classes to scripture and literature reading materials. Of the dozens of programs offered, some of the most popular include housing in the faith-based and addiction recovery pods, specialized parenting classes for both men and women, adult and juvenile education, and enrollment in the Sheriff’s Offender Work Program.
Keeping in line with the evolving needs of inmates housed in a full-service facility and in response to the growing heroin epidemic, in 2016, the sheriff’s office launched an opiate addiction treatment program in the jail. In partnership with Drug Court of Florida’s 12th Judicial Circuit, Armor Correctional Health Services, and Centerstone, inmates who suffer from opiate addiction can receive treatment in the form of a monthly injectable dose of VIVITROL, a prescription medicine used to treat opioid dependence, coupled with extensive drug therapy. Candidates are identified through Drug Court and are required to be opiate-free for at least seven days prior to receiving the first dose. Inside the jail, staff from Centerstone and Armor coordinate the initial medication and facilitate drug therapy. Upon release, patients are directed to continue outpatient care through Centerstone while under the supervision of Drug Court.
Another change took place in June when the jail reorganized housing assignments by moving female detainees from linear supervision into a direct supervision housing unit. This increased the number of female detainees able to participate in jail programs from 16 to 48. This housing change also allowed the sheriff’s office to add a new dynamic to its programming. Instead of focusing on just one aspect of rehabilitation, the inmate programs section integrated several disciplines; a beginning step to better understanding and addressing the needs of inmates and expanding programs for small groups of detainees to a broader portion of the jail population in the future.