Honor Farm to Get Body Scanner

Written by Estero Bay News

September 24, 2021

The County Sheriff’s Department will redirect the balance of a grant to fight COVID-19 in the jail after its anticipated expenses for things like overtime for correctional deputies was lower than anticipated.

The department applied for a Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program (CESF) grant from the Board of State and Community Corrections last April for $432,000.

In the grant budget, the Sheriff allocated $203,000 for overtime for jail staff.

“Deputy overtime,” a staff report reads, “was originally planned to utilize assistance in the training of inmates on in-custody tablets to access resources and programming, escort inmates for jail programs, provide remote access to external service providers, transport individuals once released to appropriate shelters/residential living homes, and support staff as needed to assist in reentry needs.”

But the virus affected those plans. “There have been vacancies that have impacted the jail staff due to COVID-19, other illnesses, retirements, and separations,” the department said. “As a result, over-time directly related to the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program was reduced to $89,247.”

The County had also budgeted $71,700 for “long-acting injectable medications for use in the jail.” But last February, WellPath, the contracted medical services provider at the jails, agreed to cover the costs for these medications, which freed up that money as well.

The extra money is being spent on things that are designed to fight the virus spread. The Sheriff’s Department will get a thermal x-ray body scanner, install WiFi at the Honor Farm, and have “additional care packages for inmates leaving the jail.”

The scanner is able to take the temperature of inmates — fever is one of the early symptoms of COVID-19 — without the staff having to get close to them, which is supposed to help slow the spread of the virus.

And there’s an added benefit to the machines, “The body scanner also detects weapons, drugs, cell phones, and other contraband.”

The WiFi installation at the Honor Farm will end a cumbersome process they’ve had to undertake to accommodate inmate’s needs. “The Men’s Honor Farm has no access to Wifi and therefore requires inmates housed at that location to be transported to the main jail for telehealth appointments, including drug and alcohol counseling, mental health appointments, tele-court, and access to tablets, which offer many programming opportunities for the inmates. Cell-side carts that greatly assist in implementing these services are only available where Wifi access is available.”

The scanner is listed as costing $189,000 the WiFi at $29,000 and the new overtime budget is listed at $147,800.

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