The day begins early and ends late at the Greenwood County Detention Center. Inmates are brought in and released throughout the day and the officers behind the scenes endure sometimes unthinkable harassment while trying to their jobs, all with very few people recognizing their contribution to the law enforcement system.
The day begins at 6 a.m. with shift change. There are, generally speaking, eight officers to man six posts throughout the jail on each shift. The detention center averages about 200 inmates on any given day.
Immediately after the shift change, officers perform the morning head count and roll call. Breakfast begins at 6:30 a.m. to make sure the inmates on work detail get the morning meal. Inmates on work details, whether going to their regular jobs or county-assigned jobs, are released immediately after breakfast. At 7 a.m., inmates receive their morning medications. At 9 a.m., there is a sick call where inmates can see a nurse. A doctor is available once each week for more serious medical issues.
Judges begin arriving at about 8 a.m. to begin the day’s bond hearings. The detention center houses inmates from three municipalities – Greenwood, Ware Shoals and Ninety Six – in addition to inmates from throughout the rest of the county. Bond hearings generally take place around 8 a.m., with an additional hearing for inmates facing county charges at 3 p.m.
Between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., inmates have recreational time. During that time, inmates can watch television, play cards, go to the courtyard or take showers among other things. Some inmates make their own checkerboards while others read books obtained from the detention center library.
Inmates can have one visit each week and each visit can last up to one hour. In the new wing of the jail which was recently completed, there is a video visitation area. Visitors sit at the front of the jail in a special room and talk to the inmate via a telephone and can see them on a video screen.
Lunch is served beginning at 11:15 a.m. Following lunch, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., inmates have quiet time. The afternoon provides officers with a chance to catch up on any paperwork, such as incident reports. Dinner is served beginning at 4:15 p.m. and evening medications are also distributed at that time. The inmates then have recreation time again until 9 p.m., when inmates return to their cells and the lights are turned out.
As tough as the daily routine is, officers endure harassment that makes the day even tougher. Officers are routinely yelled at and spit upon. Sometimes, however, the harassment can take a nasty turn.
“Being spit on is one thing and it’s horrible,” said Capt. Sharon Middleton, who took over as the jail administrator earlier this year. “But the worst thing is having feces and urine thrown on you.”
Middleton said it is not common fir such behavior to take place, but even once is one time too many.
In spite of the harassment, Middleton said she enjoys her job at the detention center. She says that many people who find themselves in jail are not bad people and genuinely want help. Helping just one person get their life back on track, Middleton said, makes all the harassment worth it.
“A lot of people who come here just want someone who will listen to them,” Middleton said. “We’re not the judge or the jury. We’re just here to house them as they make their way through the criminal justice system. We’re not here to judge them. We try to treat everyone fairly.”