September 5, 2004 Jail Hostage Report Issue

Almost three months ago inmates took control of the third floor of Bay County’s main jail facility in downtown Panama City.

Now the company that runs the jail is giving some insight into how those inmates were able to take control of the floor and hold several people hostage for 10 hours, but the report doesn't answer all the questions.

Four inmates overpowered a corrections officer and took three people, including two nurses, hostage at the Bay County Jail.

The inmates say they were protesting what they said were bad living conditions. The standoff ended the next day as the Bay County Sheriff's Office SWAT team shoots two inmates and one of the hostages.

NewsChannel Seven has obtained a copy of a report from CCA, Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that runs the jail.

In the report, CCA says changes have been made following the hostage situation. Additional guards are in place throughout the jail and nurses now have two-way radios with an emergency alert button so they can communicate with other jail staff.

Roger Hagen, the supervisor of Bay County's contract with CCA, says the report still hasn't answered all his questions.

"I would like to get more information, though; what they found out when they sent their administrators and their other wardens in to do an operational review, that's the thing I'm still looking for.”

CCA also says it is reviewing its maintenance procedures in light of reports of malfunctioning cell doors inside the jail.

All this comes as talk grows about the county taking back control of the jail or giving it to another private company.

County Commission Chairman George Gainer says, “I'm sure that we really don't want to take this jail back over and I'm sure that CCA can probably do a better job than we can do."

A full report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Bay County Sheriff's Office is at the State Attorney's Office for review. Officials hope those are released in the next 30 to 60 days.

Amy Hunt, the nurse wounded in the standoff, has hired a lawyer, but so far no one's filed any lawsuits in connection with the hostage situation.


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