Two inmates housed in the Mobile County Metro jail were stabbed during an altercation Thursday morning, apparently with a knife one of the suspects had hidden as he was being processed.
The Mobile Fire-Rescue Department responded to the jail after receiving reports of multiple stabbings shortly after 9 a.m. No officers were involved or injured, and no deaths have been reported, but two inmates were wounded when one produced a knife during an altercation.
According to Warden Trey Oliver, neither of the inmates’ injuries are believed to be life-threatening at this time, though one suffered multiple lacerations and stab wounds to the face, neck and shoulder area. The suspect also sustained lacerations during the altercation.Both were transported to local hospitals for treatment.
Oliver told reporters the incident occurred in one of the jail’s “wedges,” which house up to eight inmates in segregated cells or in an open common area. Oliver said the instigator had been disruptive during his arrival hours earlier.
The inmates have been identified as 40-year-old Joshua Sherman Brown and 23-year-old Joshua Dickinson.
Brown was later identified as the inmate who instigated the conflict and hid a knife on his person during processing. In addition to the burglary charges he was initially booked for, Brown will be charged with first-degree assault and promoting prison contraband.
In the meant time, police are still investigating exactly how a knife got into the jail, but Oliver said its currently believed to have been an oversight by a jail employee.
“Our security procedures are fine. Apparently, a few people didn’t do their job,” he said. “When you book between 15 to 18 thousand people a year, you’re not going to get it right 100 percent of the time, and when you don’t, something like a knife or a gun can slip through.”
Oliver said proper protocol for corrections officers is to “strip search” inmates as they’re processed into the jail, which is typically overseen by two or three officers.
Part of the investigation would be determining what went wrong during the intake, though Oliver noted there was a high volume of arrests at the time the inmate was processed.
Jail records indicate that 87 new inmates have been processed into the facility over the past 48 hours, many of whom have already been processed out. Just under a dozen appear to have been booked around the same time as the inmate who is believed to have had the knife.“Sometimes, inmates kept here are mingled with arrestees who are just waiting on someone to come get them out of jail, and all that transpires in our docket area, which can quickly become overcrowded,” Oliver said. “It’s inadequate at the size that it is now. The [Mobile] County Commission is aware of that and plans are currently underway to expand it.”
Those plans included $15 million of upgrades the county agreed to fund as part of a larger capital improvements plan in early December.
Oliver said expanding the docket room and prisoner intake area would free up space so corrections officers can separate inmates as they’re being photographed, fingerprinted and DNA tested.
“If you get 9 or 10 people coming in at one time, it can create some confusion and some tight working spaces,” Oliver said. “Unfortunately, sometimes things like this happen. People don’t always do what they’re supposed to do.”
Lagniappe will update this once more information is released on the suspect and the other victims involved.