After correctional officer Mari Johnson was killed Saturday at the French Robertson Unit, an Abilene area prison, facilities around the country and in Lubbock are talking about safety.
An alarming element in Johnson’s death: an inmate, Dillon Gage Compton, 21, is accused of killing her. Compton is now being held in maximum security. He was assigned to the kitchen area and allegedly attacked Johnson when she went to a storage area near the kitchen.
Chief Deputy Cody Scott who oversees Detention Operations for Lubbock County said that attack at French Robertson is a reminder of the risks officers face.
“Those type incidents don’t get a lot of publicity, but I think it does reiterate the dangers that come not only with working in the jail but come from working in law enforcement in general,” Scott said.
On Scott’s uniform this week, he wears a badge of mourning, a black stripe across his officer badge. The badge honors the officers who’ve fallen in recent attacks on law enforcement in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Scott said that while the killing of the French Robertson guard is yet another concerning event, his employees’ top concerns have been inmate and officer safety long before the killing happened.
Scott explained that even though circumstances like the ones at the French Robertson Unit Saturday are rare, he and his staff still have conversations about the incident to talk through what they might do under similar conditions.
“I can’t speak specifically about what happens in another facility, I don’t have all the information there,” Scott said. “But specifically about our facility there is very rarely a time when it’s just a one on one situation, that being said you do often have times where there’s one officer and several inmates.”
Texas law stipulates that correctional facilities should have at least one guard for every 48 inmates.
Scott explained that since the Lubbock County Detention Facility opened in 2010, it has adopted a new model of supervising which he calls direct supervision. It entails having inmates living in pods with a guard stand in the middle.
“Just that alone helps reduce the opportunities for physical altercations, in comparison to the way we housed inmates before this facility was built. Everything was linear so you were basically walking down long hallways of cells, you were only in front of inmates for the period of time that you were walking nearby,” Scott said.
Scott gave EverythingLubbock.com a tour of the facility and explained that there is a safety protocol in place for inmates during every stage of their time at the detention center.
“It’s not like it seems in the movies, I’ll put it that way,” Scott said. “When you have 1,100 men and women together, you’re gonna have disagreements sometimes physical altercations.”
While the Lubbock County Detention Center has not experienced an attack like the French Robertson Unit, they are still on alert for potention problems. Regardless of what is going on across the country Scott feels confident in his facility’s safety protocol.
“I think it’s a very safe place for both officers and inmates, not all facilities can boast about that, but we certainly can,” Scott said.