Jail Officials Say Complaints Unfounded

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Both Bay County and CCA officials say inmates have been complaining for years. They say investigations into those complaints have always come up empty. Regardless, they plan a thorough investigation of Tuesday’s incident.

Officials at the jail admit that they have received complaints about poor conditions inside. But in the nearly 20 years Corrections Corporation of America has controlled the jail, very few complaints have come up, and Jail officials say the ones that have have been addressed.

Inmates and even some CCA employees tell Newschannel Seven that conditions at the Bay County Jail are deployable. Broken toilets and showers, overcrowding, malfunctioning cell doors, and a lack of guards are just some of their complaints. But officials inside the jail say the complaints come with the territory.

"That's part of the business. It's not uncommon to hear something like that," says Denny Durbin, the jail's warden. Even county officials who monitor CCA's handling of the jail say the complaints are usually illegitimate.

"There have been times when we have had problems because this is a very old building with water and sewer. When complaints come in from inmates, I look at this as a time to make improvements. Sometimes, most of the time their unfounded," says Roger Hagen, Correctional Program Manager.

Even so, officials within the jail are now conducting what they call a thorough investigation into what led up to Sunday night's hostage standoff.

"We're doing a very good in house investigation, and we'll see if any changes need to be made," says Durbin.

Meanwhile, county officials say they may begin looking at other companies to run the jail. "I think it's about time to go out and find out if this is the best four our county," says Hagen.

CCA's contract with the county runs until 2006, but the county can begin bidding with other companies in 2005.