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A Day at the Essex County Jail

Officers busy during Valley News visit

Officers Nicholas Denton and Kenneth "Kasey" Rider escort an inmate to meet with their lawyer at the Essex County Jail.

Officers Nicholas Denton and Kenneth "Kasey" Rider escort an inmate to meet with their lawyer at the Essex County Jail. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— It was a typical morning - everyone got ready for breakfast and had their utensils in place.

However, one of the utensils, a spork, was missing. At home, you’d just replace it with a new one.

In the Essex County Jail, you must find it.

“Everyone is issued a spork and they must use it for the time that they are with us,” Officer Nicholas Denton said. “If one is missing, then we have to do a search of rooms to make sure its not being used improperly.”

That is how the morning started for members of the Essex County Sheriffs Department assigned to cover the jail, preceeded by a morning briefing and shift change where the outgoing and incoming supervisors make sure inmate counts are correct.

On June 13, 95 inmates from Essex, Franklin and Jefferson Counties along with federal inmates called the Essex County Jail their home. During morning hours, two more were added to that population, while one was released.

“It seems to come in waves,” Captain Tom Murphy said. “We can go days at a time without any new inmates, then we have a line at the booking station.”

During last week, business was up at the jail, as five inmates were booked June 11 along with the two on June 13, with more on their way.

“The last couple of months have actually been very busy,” Officer Denton said. “We have had our classification board in booking completely filled and had to start another area to list them all.”

Each prisoner who comes to the jail is given a classification ranking based on their criminal past and behavior while incarcerated at other facilities.

“There are other facilities that do not run a classification and just take the word of the inmate,” Denton said. “We take all of their history into account and give them a rating to determine whether they can be in general population or if they need to be separated.”

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