The Etowah County Sheriff's Office Detention Operations Division proudly serves as a team of professionals who daily display integrity and accountability, while providing safe, secure, stimulating, and standardized detention for Etowah County, Alabama.
The Operations Division, of the Department of Detention, is the largest division within the Sheriff's Office. More than two-thirds of the detention center's almost one hundred staff is assigned to Operations. This division is composed of three sections: Custody, Programs, and Compliance. With the support of the Logistics Division (link to Logistics Division), these teams manage the daily operation of the facility.
The Custody Section is responsible for inmate and detainee custody and care from initial intake until release. The Custody Section serves as liaison to the Courts for scheduling inmate court appearances and to Patrol for transportation to and from the Alabama Department of Corrections.
The Custody Section day time team is led by supervisor Sgt. Barry Smith. He may be reached directly by telephone at 256-439-3487.
Booking is the entry and exit point of the Detention Center. In booking, all who enter are first searched. The belongings of the inmate/detainee are inventoried in their presence and then secured. Each person is interviewed concerning personal and emergency contact information. Photographs, commonly referred to as “mug shots,” are then taken. Through a series of identification number checks and fingerprinting, the true identity of the inmate is determined. These queries search to determine if a person is wanted by any other law enforcement agency. Based on the arrestee’s charges, bond conditions, probation or parole, and warrants by other agencies, determination is made if the person can be released.
For those not eligible to be released, further checks are conducted to include: medical and mental health needs, initial security classification and housing unit assignment. When appropriate, additional search of inmates may be conducted prior to detention center clothing being issued. A shower is located in the changing room and may be used by the inmate. Personal clothing is inventoried along with other property and placed in property storage. Inmates/detainees with cash at the time of booking place their money into a kiosk which creates an account that can be used to purchase items from the detention center.
For information regarding inmates/detainees in custody, you may call 256-549-5408 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once the booking process is complete, the person is then escorted to one of ten housing units. Within the minimum and medium custody housing units, there are no barriers separating detention deputies and the inmates/detainees. This type of detention center management is known as direct supervision.
According to the National Institute of Corrections, this design allows staff to interact continuously with inmates in the housing units, actively supervising them to identify problems in their early stages. Detention deputies utilize basic management techniques to prevent negative behavior and encourage positive behavior. This allows staff to maintain direct control of the housing unit and establish a professional supervisory relationship with inmates.
In special management and maximum security housing units, inmates/detainees are often separated from others housed in those units. In these housing arrangements, detention deputies monitor the activity of the unit indirectly through security glass and video surveillance.
The Program Section is responsible for facilitating a wide range of inmate/detainee programming. Courses, sessions, and projects involve educational, therapeutic, religious, social, recreational, special needs, and community service activities. Each member of the Program Team specializes in a unique subject area to better facilitate programing in their area of responsibility. Regularly, over one hundred and twenty five volunteers from educational, religious, and civic organizations give of their time as part of the Programs Team.
The Program Section is lead by supervisor Sgt. Allen Weston. He may be contacted directly by e-mail at email@example.com or by telephone at 256-549-2194.
Substance Abuse Prevention Program
In mid 2004, Dr. Scott Hassell, Chief Deputy of Detention, began the Substance Abuse Prevention Program (SAPP) inside the Detention Center. Since its inception, it has diverted over 1500 individuals from the Alabama Department of Corrections.
This single act has saved Alabama's General Fund millions of dollars at zero additional cost to the taxpayer (by using existing resources). In the past few years, the program has grown to serve males and females, includes a work release component and has created a partnership with: Court, Aftercare, Community Corrections, CRO, local industry and countless others. We hope to serve as a model of how government and private sectors can work together to solve problems that face our community.
SAPP is a "Therapeutic Community" based program that uses the "Living in Balance" recovery and other scientific based curriculum to effect change in the participants. The program is a minimum of 26 weeks, but may be extended based upon the participants' performance and involvement. Due to the high demand for the program and the limited resources, we currently only accept court ordered persons from courts of the 16th Judicial Circuit.
In partnership with Keep Etowah Beautiful Inc., the Influence Program started in 1993. Supervised by a detention deputy, inmates daily walk the roadways of Etowah County picking up litter and other debris. Inmates selected for the Influence Program are nonviolent offenders who volunteer for the job. After a background check, they are approved by jail administration.
Therapeutic recreation is a service that provides recreation activities to individuals within the detention center to improve or maintain physical, mental and emotional well-being and help reduce depression, stress and anxiety.
Recreational activities help participants develop basic motor functioning and reasoning abilities, build confidence and socialize more effectively. Activities may incorporate arts and crafts, animals, sports, games, and competitive events.
The recreation program is based on the Adventure Programming model and is scientifically proved to meet the therapeutic needs of the participants with the ultimate goal of reducing recidivism.
Participants in this program are taught the various methods of producing food and other plants from the seed to harvest. Techniques include the ability to grow plants in an indoor setting as well as using tools and items that one might find in any household. This empowers and equips the participants with a life skill that can be used outside the walls of detention to channel their energies to more positive endeavors.
Through a partnership with Gadsden State Community College, a full Aquaculture program operates within the detention center.
This is an educational endeavor that teaches participants the art and science of raising fish. One technique uses simple tools that can be acquired in most countries. This allows many of our ICE detainees to be able to carry these skills back to their home country where they can raise their own fish and feed their respective communities.
Puppies without Borders
Through a partnership with the Etowah County Animal control, Inmates and Detainees may participate in a program that teaches basic obedience skills to dogs that have been otherwise unadoptable. The dogs live with the inmate/detainees during the time they are in the program and they are responsible for both their training and care. The dogs are trained under the direction of a volunteer trainer. They receive obedience training, such as sit, stay, down, heel, loose leash walking, proper greetings, pay attention, and house/crate training. There is not a time limit for title training of these dogs.
For training to be considered successful, the dogs must pass the AKC's Canine Good Citizenship Test. Upon graduation of the program, the dogs are returned to the Animal Shelter to be adopted.
Renew Our Rivers
The Etowah County Sheriff's Office is working to clean up the county by joining the efforts of Renew Our River. More than 35 inmates, from the Substance Abuse Prevention Program, spend time each April picking up trash and removing debris from the river banks of the Coosa River.
Renew Our Rivers is an award-winning environmental river cleanup program that began as Renew the Coosa, a vision of retired Alabama Power employee Gene Phifer. Now in its 12th year, more than 10 million pounds of trash and debris have been removed from Alabama and Southeast rivers.
Barbering classes provide participants a method by which to learn the basic principles of hair cutting. This course draws from experience from other inmates/detainees who are skilled in barbering to teach fellow inmate/detainees. The detention center setting promotes hands on practice to become proficient in the trade.
In today's technologically demanding society, basic computer skills are a must in being competitive from employment. This program provides participants a method by which to learn basic computer operation skills. This course draws from experience from other inmates/detainees and volunteers who are knowledgeable in computer skills. The detention center setting promotes hands on practice for participants.
Realizing the need to "Prevent" the addiction cycle, members of the SAPP regularly reach out to schools, churches and other civic organizations to spread the message of drug prevention and sober living. For more information about this program or to schedule this group to visit your organization, contact Supervisor Sgt. Allen Weston directly by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 256-549-1444, extension 358.
Weekly, volunteers affiliated with various religions come into the detention center and present programing to inmates/detainees. Accommodations are made to allow inmates/detainees to observe and participate in religious activities as they personally desire.
Regularly, over one hundred and twenty five volunteers from educational, religious, and civic organizations give of their time as part of the Programs Team. All volunteers must go through an application, interview, and background investigation process.
The Compliance Section is responsible to provide oversight to ensure adherence to local, state, and federal laws and accreditation standards in all aspects of the detention center. Each member of the Compliance Team specializes in a unique subject area to provide specific guidance to administration and staff on these matters. Compliance Team members serve as advocates for inmates and detainees, answering requests, assisting in meeting needs, and resolving conflict among inmates/detainees and detention deputies.
The Compliance Section is led by Lead Compliance Deputy Avery Gibbs. He may be contacted directly by e-mail at email@example.com or by telephone at 256-549-2178.
Accreditation and Standards
The Etowah County Detention Center proudly maintains accreditation in Core Jail Standards through the American Correctional Association (ACA).
Etowah County partners with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) in support of their mission in promoting homeland security and public safety. To this end, the facility maintains compliance with ICE standards.
A Message From The Sheriff
This site is maintained as a public service for the citizens of Etowah County. As Sheriff, it is my pleasure to serve you in this manner. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact us.