Guest Editorial: Inadequate staffing puts detention center employees in danger

This editorial was presented as a public comment during the July 25 Fairfield county council meeting.

As a 17-year experienced detention officer and supervisor in various correction facilities in other counties, and I can assure you that I know there is power in numbers.

Offenders have 24 hours a day to observe, plot and plan, and they know when a jail shift is short.

Iesha Dupree

With only four frontline security personnel per shift in our Fairfield Detention Center, two of the four are manning posts with one in the dorm with the detainees and one person free to assist throughout the jail. Often, that person is assisting with a long list of duties.

Physical incidents in the jail are occurring more often with delayed response time, with only one or two officers available to respond. This is dangerous for staff as well as for the detainees.

Offenders entering the jail are younger, stronger and more violent now and most likely gang affiliated, which contributes to physical incidents and combative situations which require a sufficient amount of manpower to de-escalate without anyone getting hurt.

Incarcerated mental health is a major issue as well.

Staff presence and response is a factor in all of these sometimes terrifying situations. 

Let me present a just few examples of what we experienced this year due to understaffing.

A few months ago there was an incident in which the majority of the dorm refused to lock down and threatened to riot, throwing chairs and injuring an employee. Due to our lack of manpower, we had to call county and public safety law enforcement to help us.

In another incident, a combative male refused to enter his cell with a great amount of resistance. Again, we had to get county law enforcement to assist.

We had a medical transport on which we only had one officer available to go with the detainee. That detainee attacked the officer, injuring him.

These are just a few of the dangerous incidents that we experienced this year because we are understaffed. We need to have enough officers that we can be proactive in these situations. Without providing us with adequate staffing, the county leadership is putting us in danger every day.

There are not a lot of people beating down the doors to do this job because of the stress and dangerous working conditions. We sometimes fear for our lives. We are only asking to be fairly compensated for the level of work and degree of danger we face and to have enough officers to adequately address our challenges.

It takes will power and courage to put on the uniform and produce quality productivity as well as safety and security for our detainees, the public and ourselves.

We feel abandoned and ignored. No one in the county administration has responded to our needs.


  1. Mike Bell (NO RELATON TO MOSES) says

    Ms. Dupree

    you are correct!!!!

    This administration and Council is pitiful!

    Be safe and go home daily to your family.

  2. Darrell says

    I agree that most of the public employees in every county are behind the private sector in pay increases since COVID changed the landscape of employment. All of the town and county employees probably need an increase so we must work to find a way to become more efficient with our tax dollars. I believe the town did 3% across the board after a study was done. Hopefully the county can find the funds to increase your rates of pay. I can’t imagine the work environment inside the jail. Have we looked at the pay rates for other counties? Can we increase court cost so called user fees to fund the increase in pay? Hang in there we need and appreciate you.

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