With the transfer this week of a just-turned 17-year-old from juvenile detention to the Hall County Jail, which houses adult inmates, some charged with very serious, sometimes violent crimes, the question arose on social media about the advisability of the practice.
The inmate in question is small in stature (5’4″ 135 pounds) and, and, postings said, without defending him and the seriousness of his crime, armed robbery, would seem very vulnerable to attacks, sexual and otherwise, from older more hardened inmates.
“Each inmate goes through a classification process during booking,” says a statement from the sheriff’s office defending the practice. “A variety of criteria are considered during classification. The result of classification is a ‘risk-level,’ for lack of a better term, that is used when making the new inmate’s housing assignment. It’s basically how likely the inmate is to harm themselves or others.”
For instance, it continues, “a cooperative inmate with theft charges and a petty criminal history isn’t going to come out of classification and be assigned to a housing pod with inmates charged with murder.”
The statement goes on to say that in this instance, “yes,” age and physical stature played into the housing.
“The bottom line is that the safety of everyone incarcerated in the facility is our responsibility. No one who works at the jail wants a disturbance or violence among inmates. The ideal shift for our people is boring and uneventful in inmate housing. Every inmate is monitored on a 24/7 basis, and adjustments are made in housing assignment if there is even a hint of an issue brewing.”
And, in answer to a question raised in the course of seeking information for this story, the statement says there is no special section at the jail for “kids.”
“The Hall County Jail houses adults. The Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC) houses ‘kids.'”