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Sheriff's Citizen Academy - 'Don't go through green door'

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

"I'm the jail guy," said Jail Administrator Terry Green by way of introducing himself to participants in the Sheriff's Citizen Academy, on Wednesday, April 18.

Prior to moving to Bandera and accepting a position as a jailer in the county's new facility, Green spent 20 years with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, retiring as a captain in 2002. He worked in the historic "Walls Unit" in Huntsville where the state's executions are carried out. During his two decades "in gray," Green voluntarily participated in 102 executions.

He also took part in a film that was aired several years ago on the National Geographic Explorer channel.

Entitled, "Tiedown Team," the film chronicled an inmate's journey from his cell to the execution chamber.

Since he became administrator, the Bandera County Jail has passed Texas Commission on Jail Standards inspections "with flying colors," according to Green.

Since none of the academy participants were aware of exactly what happens in a jail, Green offered them a crash course in Jail 101.

"Jail is a reactive situation," he explained. "What we do is react to a court order. We don't decide the length of an incarceration. The court does that."

He also noted that adhering to a strict day-to-day routine makes everything run smoother within a jail facility. "Routines allow inmates to get in our groove," Green said, which forestalls taking the extra time needed to handle disruptive inmates.

Documentation is another important aspect of his job. "Everything is noted - what we do and when we do it," he said.

Green had only the highest praise for the officers currently working at the Bandera County Jail. "We are blessed to have a high caliber of people to work with," Green said.

"We have some younger jailers, but they are committed to doing what has to be done. It takes a special type of person to do this type of work for any appreciable length of time. It is psychologically taxing, but our jail officers always display professionalism and courtesy."

Explaining the workings of the incarceration facility, he said, "We don't have hidden closets where we beat people." The facility has 72 beds for men and 14 for women, which includes 10 separation cells and three medical cells. "It's been called a cookie-cutter facility.

Well, it's nothing fancy, but it works for us," Green said.

Four counties - Gillespie, Kimble, Medina and Real - send prisoners for housing at the Bandera Jail. The $45 per day fee charged goes in the county's general fund.

While some may decry inmate's access to television as being too lenient, jail Capt. Cary Berger sees TV as a management tool. "It gives us something to take away," he said during a tour of one of the 12-man dorms.

Deputy Matt King, who heads up the citizen academy, added, "I've seen grown men cry because we took their television away during the Super Bowl."

Oh, an infamous green door leads from the sheriff's office directly onto the jail. Hence the warning, "Don't go through the green door."

Pictured: Jailer Gardenia Evans fingerprints good-natured volunteer, Robynn Brown, of the Sheriff's Citizen Academy, electronically.

All prisoners are subject to a pat down during the intake process at the Bandera County Jail - as volunteer Robynn Brown discovered.

As several members of the Sheriff's Citizen Academy class listen, Jailer Hugh Cornelius completes a mandatory psych evaluation on a "prospective inmate."

Cary Berger demonstrates the "suicide smock" sometimes used in conjunction with a restraint chair for violent prisoners.

Signs: These admonitions would seem to speak for themselves.

Members of the Sheriff's Citizen Academy, including Mindi Hauck and George Vierya, inspect a so-called "padded cell."

Courier staff writer, Carolyn Edwards, disembarks in the secure sally port at the Bandera County Calaboose.