Escambia County, Florida

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Escambia County, Florida
Pensacola, FL, Courthouse, Escambia County, 12-16-2010 (2).JPG
Escambia County Courthouse
Seal of Escambia County, Florida
Seal
Map of Florida highlighting Escambia County
Location in the state of Florida
Map of the United States highlighting Florida
Florida's location in the U.S.
Founded July 21, 1821
Named for Escambia River
Seat Pensacola
Largest city Pensacola
Area
 • Total 875 sq mi (2,266 km2)
 • Land 656 sq mi (1,699 km2)
 • Water 218 sq mi (565 km2), 25.0%
Population
 • (2013) 305,817
 • Density 453/sq mi (175/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website http://myescambia.com

Escambia County is the westernmost county in the U.S. state of Florida. As of the 2010 census, the population was 297,619.[1] Its county seat is Pensacola.[2]

Escambia County is included in the Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county population has continued to increase as the suburbs of Pensacola and other cities have developed.

History[edit]

The area had been inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous peoples of varying cultures. Historic American Indian tribes at the time of European-American settlement were the Pensacola and Creek.

Escambia County was organized by European Americans on July 21, 1821, after the United States bought the Floridas from Spain. It was named for the Escambia River. The name "Escambia" may have been derived from the Creek name Shambia, meaning "clearwater",[3] or the Choctaw word for "cane-brake" or "reed-brake".[4]

Created on the same date, Escambia and St. Johns counties were Florida's two original counties, covering the entire territory within modern state boundaries. The Suwanee River was the border between them,[5] which follows a winding path from the northern border of the state to the Gulf of Mexico. Essentially, the Escambia county government had jurisdiction over the "panhandle" and "big bend" areas and St. Johns over the remainder of the entire state.

As population increased in the frontier territory, 21 counties were later organized from Escambia county directly or indirectly. They include Jackson (1821), Gadsden (created from Jackson)(1823), Leon (1824), Walton (1824), Washington (created from Jackson and Walton)(1825), Hamilton (1827), Jefferson (1827), Madison (created from Jefferson) (1827), Franklin (1832), Calhoun (1838), Santa Rosa (1842), Wakulla (created from Leon) (1843), Holmes (created from Jackson and Walton) (1848), Liberty (created from Gadsden) (1855), Lafayette and Taylor (created from Madison) (1856), Bay (created from Washington) (1913), Okaloosa (created from Santa Rosa and Walton) (1915), Dixie (created from Lafayette) (1921), and Gulf (created from Calhoun) (1925). The total number of counties in Florida in 2013 is 67.

Geography[edit]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 875 square miles (2,270 km2), of which 656 square miles (1,700 km2) is land and 218 square miles (560 km2) (25.0%) is water.[6]

The county jurisdiction includes the island of Santa Rosa south of Pensacola; it is not part of Santa Rosa County proper. Escambia County is part of the Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Adjacent counties[edit]

Escambia County in Florida and Escambia County in Alabama are two of 22 counties or parishes in the United States with the same name to border each other across state lines.

National protected areas[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 3,993
1850 4,351 9.0%
1860 5,768 32.6%
1870 7,817 35.5%
1880 12,156 55.5%
1890 20,188 66.1%
1900 28,313 40.2%
1910 38,029 34.3%
1920 49,386 29.9%
1930 53,594 8.5%
1940 74,667 39.3%
1950 112,706 50.9%
1960 173,829 54.2%
1970 205,334 18.1%
1980 233,794 13.9%
1990 262,798 12.4%
2000 294,410 12.0%
2010 297,619 1.1%
Est. 2013 305,817 2.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
1790-1960[8] 1900-1990[9]
1990-2000[10] 2010-2013[1]

2010 Census[edit]

As of the census[11] of 2010, there were 297,619 people, 116,238 households, and 74,040 families residing in the county. The population density was 449 people per square mile (174/km²). There were 136,703 housing units at an average density of 206 per square mile (80/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 68.9% White, 22.9% Black or African American, 0.9% Native American, 2.7% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.3% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. 4.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 116,238 households out of which 25.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.5% were married couples living together, 4.8% had a male householder with no wife present, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3% were non-families. 28.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the county the population was spread out with 21.6% under the age of 18, 13.0% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 26.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 98.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $43,707, and the median income for a family was $54,543. Males had a median income of $38,878 versus $30,868 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,773. About 12.7% of families and 16.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.4% of those under age 18 and 9.2% of those age 65 or over.

2000 Census[edit]

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 294,410 people, 111,049 households, and 74,180 families residing in the county. The population density was 444 people per square mile (172/km²). There were 124,647 housing units at an average density of 188 per square mile (73/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 72.35% White, 21.40% Black or African American, 0.90% Native American, 2.21% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 0.85% from other races, and 2.16% from two or more races. 2.70% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 111,049 households out of which 29.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.80% were married couples living together, 15.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.20% were non-families. 26.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the county the population was spread out with 23.50% under the age of 18, 12.20% from 18 to 24, 29.00% from 25 to 44, 22.00% from 45 to 64, and 13.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 98.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $35,234, and the median income for a family was $41,708. Males had a median income of $31,054 versus $22,023 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,641. About 12.10% of families and 15.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.70% of those under age 18 and 9.60% of those age 65 or over.

Government[edit]

Escambia County government is led by a five-member Board of County Commissioners, each commissioner representing one of five districts. The county commission appoints a county administrator as chief administrative officer of the county.

The chief law enforcement authority of Escambia County is the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.

The fire protection arm of the Escambia County is the Escambia County Fire Rescue.

County commissioners[edit]

Escambia County is divided into five districts. One county commissioner is elected from each district to serve a four-year term. Commissioners are chosen in partisan elections by voters from the districts in which they live. The board appoints a county administrator to be chief administrative officer of the county, responsible to the commission for the orderly operations of matters within the board’s jurisdiction. The current office holders are,

  • Escambia County Administrator : Jack Brown
  • Escambia County District 1 : Wilson Robertson
  • Escambia County District 2 : Doug Underhill
  • Escambia County District 3 : Lumon May (Chairman)
  • Escambia County District 4 : Grover C. Robinson IV
  • Escambia County District 5 : Steven Barry (Vice Chairman)

County jail[edit]

In 2011, the US Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division issued a letter detailing the findings of its investigation into conditions of confinement at Escambia County Jail, which houses roughly 1,300 prisoners. The department found that, although the jail under the leadership of Sheriff David Morgan had recently implemented a series of meaningful reforms, conditions at the jail still routinely violated the constitutional rights of prisoners.[12]

Specifically, the department concluded that known systemic deficiencies at the facility, stemming mainly from staffing shortages, subjected prisoners to excessive risk of assault by other prisoners and to inadequate mental health care. Additionally, the department found that until recently, the jail had an informal policy and practice of designating some of its housing units as only for African-American prisoners. According to the Department of Justice, this race-based segregation not only stigmatized and discriminated against many of its African-American prisoners, it also fanned combustible racial tensions within the jail.[12] Between April 2012 and March 2013, the prison recorded 176 inmate-on-inmate assaults, including 20 serious head wounds.[13]

The investigation released a letter of findings that determined the following:

  • Prisoner-on-prisoner assaults are a common occurrence at the Jail, making the Facility unsafe for prisoners. Assaults occur routinely primarily because of a shortage of correctional staff. The Facility needs more staff to patrol Jail pods, intervene when altercations or fights break out, and search cells for dangerous items that could be used as weapons against fellow prisoners;[13]
  • A staffing study released in March 2011 commissioned by County leadership has given Jail leadership good reason to know that staffing shortages pose a significant risk to prisoner safety. Among other findings, the study concluded that: the Jail "is operating with only about three-forths of its needed staff; that "the Jail has been understaffed for many years;" that "[d]eputies ... are routinely borrowed from other jobs which results in leaving their posts unmanned;" that "[t]he frequency of some important operations, such as cell searches, is reduced due to lack of staff to conduct the searches;" that "[p]osts are understaffed or not staffed at all;" and that, "[l]arge insufficiencies in jail staffing ... raise the likelihood that something serious could happen that would overwhelm the jail's ability to respond;"[13]
  • The Jail's leadership fails to appropriately monitor and track prisoner-an-prisoner violence and staff-an-prisoner uses of force;[13]
  • The Jail's decades-long practice of housing some prisoners in housing units designated as only for black prisoners ("black-only pods") discriminates against African-Americans on the basis of their race, contributes to prisoner perceptions that the Jail favors white prisoners over black prisoners, and makes the Facility less safe by fanning racial tensions between prisoners;[13]
  • The Jail does not afford prisoners timely and adequate access to appropriately skilled mental health care professionals;[13]
  • The Jail routinely fails to provide appropriate medications to prisoners with mental illness;[13]
  • The Jail provides inadequate housing and observation for prisoners with serious mental illness and/or at risk of self-injury, including suicide;[13] and
  • On average, the Jail sends roughly one prisoner per month to the hospital after an incident of self-injury, a rate our expert found indicative of a clearly inadequate mental health program.[13]

These factual determinations provided the Department of Justice with reasonable cause to believe that Escambia County Jail's practices violated the Fourteenth Amendment's due process protections for pre-trial detainees, as well as the Eighth Amendment's protections for those convicted of a criminal offense. Those amendments prohibit jail officials from showing deliberate indifference to conditions of confinement posing an excessive risk of harm to prisoners.[13]

Roy L. Austin Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division, commended Sheriff Morgan for his willingness to remedy problems identified during the course of the investigation. The department conducted this investigation pursuant to its authority under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) to enforce constitutional mandates. The department’s investigation was broad based and included a review of practices relating to the level of security at the jail, the adequacy of medical and mental health services, and sanitation/environmental conditions.[12]

The investigation was conducted by Special Litigation Counsel Avner Shapiro and Senior Trial Attorney David Deutsch of the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section.[12] The findings letter is available on the Department’s website.

Education[edit]

Public primary and secondary education schools in Pensacola are administered by the Escambia County School District.

The University of West Florida and Pensacola State College, as well as Pensacola Christian College, are located in Escambia County.

Media[edit]

Print[edit]

The largest daily print newspaper in the area is the Pensacola News Journal. There is a weekly print newspaper called The Independent News.[1] There also is an online-only newspaper called NorthEscambia.com that serves entire county while concentrating on the northern half of the county.

Television[edit]

One major network broadcasts from Pensacola, ABC affiliate WEAR. Several major networks are broadcast from nearby Mobile, such as CBS affiliate WKRG, NBC affiliate WPMI-TV, and Fox affiliate WALA. The following is a list of broadcast television stations in the Mobile, AlabamaPensacolaFort Walton Beach, Florida market.[14] Cox Communications provides cable television service within the county, and television advertising through its subsidiary, Cox Media [2].

Radio[edit]

Radio stations in the Pensacola / Mobile market[15]

Transportation[edit]

Escambia County is served by buses run by Escambia County Area Transit.[16][17]

Politics[edit]

Escambia County is a very conservative region. Before 1994, the area traditionally voted Democratic and sent Democrats to the House of Representatives and the state legislature until the incumbent Earl Hutto declined to run for reelection. In that year Republican Joe Scarborough was elected to the House of Representatives. The electorate has switched to voting Republican since 1994 electing Republicans to the House of Representatives by wide margins.

Voters of the county have not supported a Democratic presidential candidate since 1960. In 1972 George McGovern only won 20% of votes. Since 1988 voting has been heavily Republican in presidential elections.

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democrat Other
2012 59.7% 39.2% 1.1%
2008 59.0% 39.8% 1.2%
2004 65.3% 33.7% 1.0%
2000 62.6% 35.1% 8.5%
1996 56.5% 35.1% 8.4%
1992 50.2% 30.5% 19.3%
1988 68.0% 31.4% 0.5%

Library[edit]

Escambia County is served by the West Florida Regional Library System.

Communities[edit]

Juan Sebastian de Elcano, a Spanish tall ship, initiates a 21-gun salute in honor of the city of Pensacola's 450th anniversary in 2009

City[edit]

Town[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Ghost towns[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Escambia County Alabama History - accessed August 18, 2009
  4. ^ Alabama Department of Archives and History - accessed August 18, 2009
  5. ^ Today in Florida History!, July 21, 2012, www.myfloridahistory.org, Florida Historical Society, Cocoa, Florida
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  7. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 13, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved June 13, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 13, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 13, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  12. ^ a b c d Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs (22 May 2013). "Justice Department Finds Unconstitutional Conditions of Confinement at Escambia County, Fla. Jail". United States Department of Justice. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Roy L. Austin, Jr. (22 May 2013). "Findings Letter of Investigation of Escambia County Jail". 
  14. ^ (Nielsen DMA#59)
  15. ^ (Arbitron#123)
  16. ^ http://www.goecat.com/routes/_doc/fullmap-201212.pdf
  17. ^ http://www.goecat.com/

Sources incorporated into this article[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Department of Justice document "Justice Department Finds Unconstitutional Conditions of Confinement at Escambia County, Fla.".

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Department of Justice document "Findings Letter of Investigation of Escambia County Jail".

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°37′N 87°20′W / 30.61°N 87.33°W / 30.61; -87.33