SWFL jail makes changes on heels of inmate suicide

Two inmates jumped from 2nd floor this month
Posted at 7:34 PM, Jun 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-29 10:56:52-04
A SWFL County Jail that has been under scrutiny for a series of inmate deaths is implementing new changes to improve safety and transparency.
This month, two inmates leaped from the second floor of their housing pods. One of them, Franklin Szakalos, died from his injuries a week after the June 3rd incident. 
"As you can tell it doesn't look that high, but when you go head first this is all cement," said Prummell.
Sheriff Bill Prummell who oversees the jail says the Szakalos' jump was sparked by a 15-year sentence he received hours before the incident. 
Prummell told Fox 4 he has been speaking with county leaders to fund a project to raise the height of the current railings.  
"One of things we're looking at is that you can take a chain-like or wire fencing and build that straight up," said Sheriff Bill Prummell. 
Approval for higher railings could take months according to Sheriff Prummelll. An immediate change, however, is coming to the way jail officers communicate . 
"I never realized it myself, is that the radio traffic here within the jail wasn't on a recorded channel," said Sheriff Prummell."
Prummell told Fox 4 radio communication between jail officers will be recorded beginning Wednesday after the issue was brought to his concern by the media. 
Policy changes are also coming to the jail's infirmary where many high risk mentally ill inmates are housed. 
The unit is now staffed with 4 deputies instead of 3, and inmates in the unit must now be shackled when they are being removed from their cell. 
"After we had the last incident we implemented a policy right away that they have to be in full set up, that means, they're shackled and cuffed," said Sheriff Bill Prummell.
Roughly one-third of the jail's population suffers from some type of mental illness according to Prummell. Last November, a 1% sales tax extension was approved through a referendum vote to fund a new 3-story medical clinic. 
The project will cost a little over 10 million dollars, and is expected to be completed by 2018. Groundbreaking on the medical unit is projected to start at the end of this year. 
This article previously reported 7 inmates died at the facility in the past two years. Information provided by the Charlotte County jail indicates there were 5 inmates deaths in the past 5 years.