Why the County Jail is a Place Students Want to Be

The county jail might not seem like a place you would want to visit, but criminal justice degree students from Globe University-Madison East jumped at the chance.  This quarter students in the Behavioral Science and Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice class toured the Columbia County Jail, Communication Center, and the county Medical Examiner’s Office.

criminal justice degreeThe Columbia County Jail is responsible for holding all persons arrested in Columbia County.  It has three floors; the first floor is intake and holding/special cells including a padded room.  The second floor houses secure male inmates and the third floor houses additional male inmates and female inmates.  The secure jail has a total of 165 bunks. The Huber center is capable of holding an additional 192 inmates.

The jail is designed in a pod style allowing many inmates to be supervised by few staff.The jail also includes laundry facilities, medical services, kitchen, recreation areas, and a video court.  The video court allows offenders to “attend” court using video conferencing.  This has allowed the county to decrease the cost of transportation, the potential for inmates to escape, and has enhanced the safety of courtroom personnel and the general public.

“I enjoyed seeing a working jail from the inside out, without being in trouble,” said criminal justice student Robyn Ophime.  “Seeing everything—intake, to food service in a gourmet kitchen, and the laundry facilities.”

Students were able to observe the dispatch crew in the communication center taking 911 calls.  The dispatch center has two dispatchers on duty at all times.  It utilizes an enhanced 911 system and dispatching software that time stamps and records all calls for service including fire and EMS calls.

The final portion of the students’ tour was in the Medical Examiner’s Office.  This was extra special since one of their fellow students, Katelyn Sopha, works as the chief deputy medical examiner in that office.  Katelyn was able to show her class what she does each day and how her work affects others. Katelyn investigates death scenes to determine cause and manner of deaths, examines evidence at the scene to establish an initial assessment of the cause and manner of death as natural, suicide, homicidal, accidental, or undetermined, and she also collects and preserves physical evidence.  Katelyn graduates this month with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and will continue to utilize the skills she has learned at Globe at the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Katelyn Sopha said, “This experience that these students got is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  I’m very glad I got to be a part of educating people on how my job works.  I am also glad that they got to see a career field in the criminal justice system.”

Overall, this three-in-one field trip gave these criminal justice students a chance to understand how all three of these departments work together on a daily basis and were able to check out some of the various careers in the criminal justice field.