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Charleston County Jail Faces Severe Staffing Shortage, Launches Hiring Campaign

"Recruitment poster for jail"

Charleston County jail ‘severely understaffed,’ hiring across the board

In Charleston County, South Carolina, the Al Canon Detention Center is reported to be “severely understaffed” and is actively recruiting new staff in an effort to fill nearly 100 vacancies. The facility is organizing on-site hiring events and offering jail tours to encourage potential applicants.

Dire situation and impact on staff

Despite the staff shortage, the detention center claims to be maintaining its operations and meeting the state-required ratio of deputies to inmates. However, this situation has led to the current team being overworked. Detention Captain Ezzard Luke, who operates in the security unit, explained, “Because we’re behind four walls, most people have no idea what it takes to run this operation”. He estimates there are about 90 detention deputy vacancies across all units including tactical operations, processing, and housing.

Luke pointed out that the shortage of staff is not just a bottleneck in the hiring process, but also impacts the efficiency of the jail’s operations. With only one or two officers available at any given time, handling paperwork, fingerprinting, photographing, or classifying new inmates becomes slow and challenging.

The Toll of Understaffing

Lack of staff is causing most detention deputies to work extra shifts with less time off. Moving into the housing units, Luke revealed that some units are not even operational due to a lack of staff. The facility currently holds around 1,200 inmates, with a total capacity for 1,693 individuals, but only 64 are typically assigned to one deputy, meeting the minimum state standard.

Having 64 residents per deputy is the facility’s design capacity. While staffing at this ratio is not considered overcrowding, ideal conditions would be a smaller deputy-to-inmate ratio. Understaffing means that fully operational units are working at their maximum capacity, putting a strain on resources and the current staff.

Unique Ecosystems

Dr. Ashleigh Wojslawowicz, a data analyst for the Charleston County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, has noted that each detention center should be viewed as an individual ecosystem with unique strengths and weaknesses. According to her, “there are opportunities for management to review different types of capacity and resource allocation.” The council does not issue specific recommendations, but compiles data related to capacity among other matters.

Hiring Events

To help address staffing shortfall, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office is hosting hiring events at the Al Canon Detention Center on July 19 and 20. Those interested in participating can either register online through July 15 or register on-site on the day of the event.

While acknowledging the challenge, Luke believes the current staff is supportive and committed to ensuring their work gets done, even if it means being overworked. In the deputy’s words, “The bottom line is this. There’s a job that needs to be done and someone has to do it.”

Charleston County Jail Faces Severe Staffing Shortage, Launches Hiring Campaign

HERE Charleston
Author: HERE Charleston

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