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Beyond the bars

Outside of the Women’s Detention Center. The entire jail used to be in this building, but a new and separate center on the same property has since been built for the men.

For the last three years, Officer Jason Horrocks of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department has worked 12 hours a day in the Women’s Detention Center.

Located on Main Street in Rexburg, Idaho, the Sheriff’s Department can hold up to 100 inmates. Along with other officers, Horrocks knows many of these inmates by name.

“It’s hard to watch what they’re going through,” Horrocks said. “We have inmates in here who — while they’re in here — they lose loved ones, and they’re not able to attend funerals. Granted it’s from decisions they’ve made, but they’re still people.”

Built in December 1920, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department premises include the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, the Courthouse, Department of Motor Vehicles, the Women’s Detention Center and the Men’s Detention Center according to Madison County’s website.

A holding facility where inmates await their processing into the Detention Center. The Men and Women’s jail combined can hold up to 100 inmates.

As a requirement, officers check each cell and talk with inmates every 30 minutes to reassure their safety. Horrocks said they usually end up doing these security checks every 25 minutes, to help build trust with each inmate.

“If there’s something going on in there that we don’t know about, they feel more comfortable talking to us,” Horrocks said.

Officer JD West, of Las Vegas, Nevada has worked at the detention center for 16 years. West’s time and experience in the area has lead him to come to know many people who stay in the Jail. West said many times he has known inmates since they were kids.

Hallway leading to the Men’s Detention Center Control room. Food trays sit on the right and jackets are hung in the back.

“You can kind of counsel them, kind of give them some advice, some kind of life path to help them along,” West said.

Inmates read in work jumpsuits outside the Men’s Detention Center library.

The average inmate remains detained in Madison County for about two months, according to Horrocks and West. Though some individuals stay a shorter period of time, some stay up to three years, usually awaiting their trial for a prison sentence.

Many inmates pass their time at the Center by reading books, spending time in the recreational facility, and by working in the kitchen, or other parts of the Jail.

Natasha Morales, an inmate at the Women’s Detention Center in 2018, learned something new from her experience each time, through her nine years of addiction recovery.

“Sometimes we need harsh reality checks to bring us back,” Morales said.

Morales said her best advice is to never give up, something she learned through hard things in her life.

Inmate Natasha Morales poses for a photo right outside the visiting area.

“My favorite saying is, ‘He never said it would be easy, but He did say it would be worth it,” Morales said. “Always be strong. Be the best you can be…always look at people with a fresh set of eyes and give them a chance.”

Despite the challenges of life, Morales considers herself to be very resilient. She mentioned spending time with her family and watching sports makes her happy.

“It’s gotten me through a lot of things in life and it’s humbled me,” Morales said. “It’s made me strong.”

Despite age differences, Morales said many inmates come to her for advice. It gladdens Morales to be able to help others by sharing her personal struggles.

“My main focus right now is finding my way back,” she said. “Getting right with God, and my faith. Just finding who I am again.”

Horrock said one of his favorite parts about the job is seeing individuals change.

“Some people that come in here make a legitimate mistake, and then they change their life,” he said. “That’s probably the best thing.”

Officer Jason Horrocks and Officer JD West pose for a photo right out side the control room for the Women’s jail.

Inmates have a certain amount of time each day to get fresh air. This recreational center is where they can go to play sports, and hold religious ceremonies on Saturdays and Sundays.

Officer Jason Horrocks shows the locking mechanism and key of a holding cell.

Officer Jason Horrock explains that the Madison County Detention Center uses white and orange striped jumpsuits, but black and white stripes are still used in some other jails.

The visiting room in the Women’s section of the prison. They recently made a switch where inmates can meet with visitors in the same room rather than talking through the glass.

The Women’s side of the Detention center where they eat meals.

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