Collier corrections chief heads to Africa to educate, learn about jail system there

Thirteen years working in the Collier County jail has taught Scott Salley a lot about running a corrections system.

Starting Monday, corrections officials in South Africa will have two weeks to pick Salley’s brain about running theirs.

Salley, the longtime chief of corrections for the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, is one of 11 corrections professionals from across the country traveling to South Africa to share their knowledge. The trip is being organized by the American Correctional Association and People to People International, an ambassador program founded in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower.

The trip is a positive way to exchange ideas.

“I’m not going to go in and say ‘This is all wrong,’” Salley said. “If you ask me a question, I’m going to tell you, based on my experience, this is the practice I would follow.”

The ambassadors will be traveling to South African corrections facilities, and stopping at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.

“It’s not going to be sitting in the air conditioning,” Salley said of the trip.

The topics of discussion include public safety, inmate medical and mental health treatment, staff safety, inmate safety, inmate education and staff training. Salley said he will discuss corrections emergency response teams — the jail equivalent of a SWAT team — as well as reentry, reintegration and interacting with the community.

Mark Saunders, a member of the American Correctional Association’s executive committee who is leading the trip, said many South African officials are interested in becoming more westernized.

“We’re not going to change anything in 10 days, but what we’re going to do is create the partnerships and lay the groundwork for future possibilities of change,” Saunders said.

Salley leaves for Washington, D.C., on Saturday, and flies to South Africa with the rest of the delegation Monday. He is slated to return to Collier County on Oct. 30. He is using his vacation time for the trip, and is paying his own expenses, so there won’t be any cost to taxpayers.

Salley said he has done some personal fundraising to help pay for the trip.

Though most of his time in South Africa will be spent working, Salley expects to see plenty of the country, and hopes to hit the water at least once.

“If I can work it out,” he said, “I’d really like to go (cage diving) and get in the water with a Great White.”

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