Jackson County Sheriff’s Office responds to complaints over lack of outdoor rec time for inmates

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JACKSON COUNTY, Ala.- The mother of a Jackson County inmate is voicing her concerns over their treatment.

Sharon Adkins told News 19 that the inmates do not have access to outdoor recreation time or religious services.

“My son is in Jackson County Jail and he’s been there since July and he’s had one visit where he can go out in the yard,” explained Adkins.

Inclement weather like what was in the area Monday is partially to blame according to Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen.

“As far as recreation goes, there is no constitutional requirement for that especially when you have a day room. So we have a day room in each pod,” explained Harnen. “We still have an area out there that is secure that we can take them out but the weather’s just been too inclement for that. Once the weather gets nice, they’ll be allowed to go back outside.”

He said being short staffed is also an issue.

“Even if they’re full staffed, they’re short staff for the number of inmates that we have, so it is difficult for them to have enough people to go out and watch them, however, we do make it happen during good weather,” explained Harnen.

Harnen told News 19 even though the inmates have not been able to come outside, they can exercise in the day room inside.

“They walk up and down the steps. They walk around the day room. They do sit ups and pushups,” said Harnen.

But Adkins believes that is not enough.

“He says he works out at least three times a day but they should be able to go outside. I would just like for him to have some of the basic rights that go along with living the best life that you can live incarcerated. There’s just a certain grounding I get from going outside each day and walking and I think possibly they would, too,” said Adkins.

She added that the inmates are also not being given access to religious services.

Harnen explained to News 19 that they typically have preachers go into the jail for in-person visits, but due to COVID-19, that is not currently allowed.

“We don’t want outsiders coming into the jail and taking the chance on bringing COVID in there into the inmate population,” added Harnen.

He said inmates can have their own bible study together and/or have virtual visits with religious leaders.

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