Pasco County jail special report: Supervisor knows the facility well

Head has worked in corrections 23 years, Land O’Lakes since ’01.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Head has worked in corrections 23 years, Land O’Lakes since ’01.

"A jail is designed to control activity," says Maj. Brian Head, the facility's chief. "It's supposed to be mundane, uneventful, very routine. So don't be disappointed."

Head has worked in corrections for 23 years and at Land O'Lakes since 2001. He knows the labyrinthine corridors as well as the name of each member of the jail's staff of 445. A sign in his office that says "Ranch Head" hangs just above the life-size cut-out of John Wayne.

He doesn't hesitate to walk right up to the most dangerous of inmates to hear their requests. He wears a size 62 suit jacket and has a handshake that feels like he could rip off your arm.

He knows by heart how many meals the jail serves every year (1.6 million) and how much each one costs (78 cents); the value of the total products the jail orders every year ($2 million); the monthly cost of prisoners' medications ($43,000); and the number of pigs on the jail's farm (120).

Unlike a prison, where convicts serve out their sentences, a jail is for temporary detentions. Inmates are waiting to make bail, or they are being held without bail; they are crediting time toward their sentence, serving a misdemeanor sentence of less than a year, or waiting to be transferred. Or they have nowhere else to go.

"The jail is a dumping ground for people with mental health problems because there are no treatment centers," Head said, watching a monitor of a prisoner in solitary confinement.

In cases where inmates don't belong in prison, he says, "it's a waste of the taxpayer's money."

Although he sees it every day, Head said he doesn't understand why the county (and the state, and nation) incarcerate so many people.

"If I knew that, I wouldn't be major," he said. "I could be president."

Pasco County jail special report: Supervisor knows the facility well 08/08/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 8, 2009 1:18pm]

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