Escambia County’s Director of Corrections — the official in charge of the county’s jail and corrections staff — has been fired, county officials announced today.
County Administrator Jack Brown made the decision earlier today to end Michael Tidwell’s duties as Escambia County Director of Corrections. Effective immediately, jail command, community corrections, and road prison staff will report directly to Assistant County Administrator Chip Simmons until the search for a new corrections director is complete.
The move comes after the deaths of four inmates under Tidwell’s oversight of the jail, which began last January. At least two of the deaths appear to be the result of inadequate medical attention, while another was ruled a suicide.
Simmons will begin working immediately to fill an open health services administrator position, and the medical unit will be placed back under the control of the jail commander who will now be empowered to make decisions regarding transporting inmates to an outside medical facility with or without medical staff recommendation. Additionally, a list of critically ill patients will be given to the command staff daily, with each shift providing an end of shift report to include updates on every infirmary patient to the jail commander.
At next Thursday’s County Commission Agenda Review Meeting, County Administrator Jack Brown will present a report on the health care system at the jail completed by Alliance Medical Management. Escambia County hired the consultant in May to conduct an analysis of the current system.
Per county policy, Tidwell was relieved of all duties and given 90 days’ notice. Tidwell earned an annual salary of $118,543.
Tidwell began work on January 26, 2015, replacing previous corrections director Gordon Pike, who retired in November 2014. Tidwell came to the county with more than 30 years’ experience, a Master’s Degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, and jail management and corrections executive certification.