Collin County opted to construct a "direct supervision" facility, which uses a podular design for inmate housing instead of a linear design, to create a secure and humane environment for both staff and inmates. The structure, in tandem with the direct supervision philosophy, promotes supervision of inmates rather than control by intermittent surveillance and security barriers alone. Recognizing that during the course of their careers detention employees will spend more time in the facility than will any incarcerated individual, the facility was designed to offer safe and normal working environment for the staff. This environment promotes positive morale, increases motivation, improves efficiency, and minimizes staff turnover.
Under the direct supervision philosophy, a detention officer is present inside the housing unit at all times to directly supervise and interact with the inmates. It is the responsibility of the officer to maintain control of the inmates' behavior, minimize negative conduct, and reduce or eliminate tension causing situations. Officer security is maintained by use of body alarms, radio communication, and surveillance cameras. Paramount to the success of this style of supervision is the officer's complete authority and control over his or her area of responsibility. Inmates who refuse to conform to the concept of direct supervision are reassigned to a traditional linear housing unit. Each inmate spends most of his or her time inside the housing unit. The need for frequent and costly inmate movement is greatly reduced by providing most services within the housing unit or at the cluster level. Direct supervision enhances the interaction between detention officers and inmates, reduces inmate violence and vandalism, and provides a significant cost savings by reducing the number of staff needed to operate the facility.
The following is a brief overview of the areas, services, and functions within the detention facility.
The Detention Bureau is a division of the sheriff's office and operates under the jurisdiction of the sheriff although it is physically separated from the sheriff's administrative area.
Two public waiting areas are located in the detention lobby to separate inmate visitors and administrative visitors. Public information, visitor processing, storage lockers, restrooms, water fountains, and telephones are also available in the lobby. Visitors' access to the facility is controlled with security zones.
Staff services and training areas are located throughout the building, and include an indoor dining room, outdoor dining area, short order grill, vending area, locker rooms, and facilities for classroom instruction, briefings, and physical training.
Security of the building, both inside and out, is provided via 24-hour a day monitoring conducted from a master control station. This station is equipped with state-of-the-art electronic monitoring systems for all access points, fire and smoke detection, and mechanical and emergency power systems. An additional control station is located at each cluster level housing area to directly monitor individual pod activities.
The processing area, sometimes called intake or booking, is the inmate's first contact with the detention facility. It is here that the inmate is introduced to the direct supervision philosophy, as he or she will remain in an open waiting area, in lieu of being held in a secured cell, until the booking process is completed, or unless his or her behavior warrants traditional confinement. Measures have been implemented throughout the processing area to maximize coordination and efficiency of the intake system, i.e., separate processing and circulation zones for admissions, transfers, and releases.
Adjacent to the processing area are the property, bond, and release areas, which are accessible via the public corridor to allow persons to post bonds, pay fines, or retrieve personal property for incarcerated inmates. All inmate property and financial accounts are maintained and all release transactions are conducted in these areas. The effectiveness of the direct supervision management philosophy relies strongly on accurate classification of the inmates. The classification process examines the inmate's criminal history and observes and evaluates his or her physical, mental, and social conditions and behaviors to determine the most appropriate housing unit assignment for that person. Newly arriving inmates are temporarily placed in the classification housing unit until the evaluation is completed and the inmates are given a permanent housing assignment. While in the temporary unit, inmates are required to participate in an orientation program designed to familiarize them with the direct supervision philosophy, facility rules and regulations, services, and programs.
Another area within the facility that contributes to the efficiency of detention operations is arraignments. The ability to conduct in-house arraignments increases security, reduces inmate transportation time and costs, and aids the judges who are required to conduct arraignments during non-business hours and weekends. The area was designed to accommodate installation of video arraignment equipment in the future.
Detention Response Team (D.R.T.). Also within the detention bureau is the Detention Response Team. The D.R.T. officers are specifically trained to respond to high-risk situations within the facility such as barricaded inmates, hostage situations, and high-profile inmate transport.
The facility is equipped to provide certain services to meet the basic health, nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation needs of the inmates. The design allows as many of these required services as possible to be delivered to the housing units to maximize security and minimize the need for staff intensive inmate movement and transportation costs. There are medical exam rooms located in the processing area, the infirmary, and each cluster. Inmate medical care, basic clinical and dental services are provided in-house. The food service area was sized to accommodate the complex-level build-out of 1,600 beds.
Meals are prepared on site by inmate workers under the supervision of the kitchen staff, then delivered to the housing units. Also designed for maximum build-out, the laundry service area contains commercial grade laundering and sewing equipment, and storage space for linens and inmate clothing. Other service areas include a commissary, barbering areas, and a mail room.
In keeping with its mission of system efficiency and fiscal responsibility, the facility includes space to provide self-improvement and educational opportunities in an effort to reduce the recidivism rate and comply with state regulations. Volunteers conduct a majority of the activities, which include courses in G.E.D., adult basic education, adult literacy, drug rehabilitation and counseling, religious and library services, visitation, and recreation. In addition to the sheriff's alternative confinement and sentencing programs, an inmate worker program is in place to facilitate completion of many tasks, such as preparation of inmate meals, trash collection and disposal, and general housekeeping. Availability of these programs serves as a management tool since inmate participation is contingent upon the display of positive, responsible behavior.