Escambia County, Florida
Escambia County Courthouse
Location within the U.S. state of Florida
Florida's location within the U.S.
|Founded||July 21, 1821|
|Named for||Escambia River|
|• County Administrator||Janice P. Gilley|
|• Total||875 sq mi (2,270 km2)|
|• Land||656 sq mi (1,700 km2)|
|• Water||218 sq mi (560 km2) 25.0%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||485/sq mi (187/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
Escambia County is the westernmost and oldest county in the U.S. state of Florida, located in the northwestern corner of the state. At the 2010 census, the population is 297,619. Its county seat and largest city is Pensacola.
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 Muscogee, known among the English as the Creek.
Escambia County had been part of Spanish colonial settlement before it was acquired by the United States in 1818. The county was organized by European-Americans on July 21, 1821; it was named for the Escambia River. The name "Escambia" may have been derived from the Creek name Shambia, meaning "clearwater", or the Choctaw word for "cane-brake" or "reed-brake". The Choctaw were another major tribe in the Southeast.
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 Suwannee River was the border between them, 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 since 1925 has been stable at 67.
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.
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
|U.S. Decennial Census|
At the 2010 census there were 297,619 people, 116,238 households, and 74,040 families living 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. Of the 116,238 households 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 households were one person and 10.2% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.96.
The age distribution was 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% 65 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 household income was $43,707 and the median family income 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.
At the 2000 census there were 294,410 people, 111,049 households, and 74,180 families living 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 72.4% White, 21.4% Black or African American, 0.9% Native American, 2.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.9% from other races, and 2.2% from two or more races. 2.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Of the 111,049 households 29.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.8% were married couples living together, 15.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.2% were non-families. 26.9% of households were one person and 9.7% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.98.
The age distribution was 23.5% under the age of 18, 12.2% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.3% 65 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 household income was $35,234 and the median family income 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 12.1% of families and 15.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.7% of those under age 18 and 9.6% of those age 65 or over.
Escambia County government is led by a five-member Board of County Commissioners. Each is elected from a single-member district. The county commission appoints a professional county administrator as chief administrative officer of the county.
The chief law enforcement authority of Escambia County is the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, also an elective office. The current sheriff of Escambia County is Chip Simmons, elected in 2020.
The fire protection arm of the Escambia County is the Escambia County Fire Rescue (Florida).
Board of County Commissioners
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 District 1 : Jeff Bergosh
- Escambia County District 2 : Doug Underhill
- Escambia County District 3 : Lumon May
- Escambia County District 4 : Robert Bender (vice chairman)
- Escambia County District 5 : Steven Barry (chairman)
- Escambia County Administrator: Janice P. Gilley
- Escambia County Deputy Administrator: Chips Kirschenfeld
- Escambia County Deputy Administrator: Wes Moreno
- Escambia County Attorney: Alison P. Rogers
In 2011, the US Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division issued a letter detailing the results of its investigation into conditions at Escambia County Jail, which houses roughly 1,300 prisoners. The department found that, although Sheriff David Morgan had recently implemented a series of reforms, conditions at the jail still routinely violated the constitutional rights of prisoners.
Specifically, the department concluded that known systemic deficiencies, 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 segregating its housing units, reserving one for African-American prisoners. According to the Department of Justice, this race-based segregation stigmatized and discriminated against many of the prisoners, and aggravated racial tensions in the jail. Between April 2012 and March 2013, the prison recorded 176 inmate-on-inmate assaults, including 20 serious head wounds.
The investigation released a letter of findings:
- 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;
- 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-fourths of its needed staff; that "the [j]ail 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;"
- The Jail's leadership fails to appropriately monitor and track prisoner-on-prisoner violence and staff-on-prisoner uses of force;
- The jail's decades-long practice of housing some prisoners in housing units designated as only for black prisoners ("black-only pods") racially discriminates against African-Americans, contributes to prisoner perceptions that the jail favors white prisoners over black prisoners, and reduces safety by exacerbating racial tensions among prisoners at the Facility;
- Prisoners are not given timely and adequate access to appropriately skilled mental health care professionals;
- The jail routinely fails to provide appropriate medications to prisoners with mental illness;
- The jail provides inadequate housing and observation for prisoners with serious mental illness and/or at risk of self-injury, including suicide; and
- On average, the jail sends roughly one prisoner per month to the hospital after an incident of self-injury, a rate judged indicative of an inadequate mental health program.
The Department of Justice concluded from these facts 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. Jail officials must refrain from showing deliberate indifference to conditions of confinement posing an excessive risk of harm to prisoners.
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 under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) to enforce constitutional mandates. The department's investigation was broad based.
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. The findings letter is available on the Department's website.
The largest daily print newspaper in the area is the Pensacola News Journal. There is also a weekly print newspaper, The Independent News. An online-only newspaper, NorthEscambia.com serves the entire county while concentrating on the northern half of the county.
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, Alabama – Pensacola – Fort Walton Beach, Florida market. Cox Communications provides cable television service within the urbanized areas of the county, and television advertising through its subsidiary, Cox Media. Bright House Networks holds the cable television franchise for the mainland rural areas of the county while Mediacom serves the Pensacola Beach community on Santa Rosa Island.
- Coastal Airport
- Ferguson Airport
- Pensacola International Airport
- I-10 / SR 8
- US 29
- US 90
- US 98
BUS US 98
- State Road 4
- State Road 97
- State Road 173
- State Road 289
- State Road 291
- State Road 292
- State Road 295
- State Road 296
Pensacola was a scheduled stop on the route of Amtrak's Los Angeles-Orlando Sunset Limited from 1993 to 2005, when damage to railroad bridges and tracks caused by Hurricane Katrina resulted in cancellation of the route east of New Orleans. Escambia County has had no passenger train service since then.
The following freight railroads serve Escambia County:
- CSX from Flomaton, Alabama, to Pensacola
- Florida Gulf & Atlantic Railroad, which acquired most of the CSX main line from Pensacola to Jacksonville on June 1, 2019
- Alabama & Gulf Coast Railway from Amory, Mississippi, to Pensacola
According to the secretary of state's office, Republicans constitute a plurality of registered voters in Escambia County. Since the late twentieth century, the party is composed largely of white conservatives, who shifted into it from the Democratic Party. Most African Americans and other minorities are affiliated with the Democratic Party and support its programs and candidates. The voting results in the 2014 presidential election (see below) closely reflected the demographics of the county.
|Escambia County voter registration & party enrollment as of September 30, 2015|
|Political party||Total voters||Percentage|
Politically, Escambia County is a very conservative region. Before 1994, the area traditionally voted Democratic in local elections and sent Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives and the state legislature. This was particularly the case in the decades of the 20th century when most African Americans were disenfranchised by the state constitution until after passage of the federal Voting Rights Act.
In 1994 incumbent representative Earl Hutto declined to run for reelection. In that year, Republican Joe Scarborough was elected to the House of Representatives. The white conservative electorate has switched to voting Republican since the 1994 Republican Revolution. They have elected Republicans to the state house and to the US House of Representatives by wide margins ever since.
Voters of the county have not supported a Democratic presidential candidate since John F. Kennedy in 1960. In 1964 a majority of voters supported Barry Goldwater, although he was a Republican. In 1968 third-party candidate George Wallace won Escambia County with 54 percent of the vote. In 1972, that year, Republican Richard Nixon received 80 percent of the vote in the county, which seemed to signify the success of his Southern strategy to entice white voters from the Democratic party. Since 1972, Republican candidates in every presidential election have won an absolute majority in Escambia County.
|2018||57.76% 74,719||40.84% 52,835||1.40% 1,812|
|2014||61.99% 60,719||34.13% 33,434||3.88% 3,798|
|2010||56.93% 54,607||38.44% 36,873||4.63% 4,436|
|2006||59.09% 51,195||38.98% 33,777||1.93% 1,674|
|2002||64.92% 60,095||34.40% 31,844||0.68% 633|
|1998||66.83% 50,325||33.14% 24,956||0.03% 23|
|1994||57.68% 45,261||42.32% 33,210||0.00% 1|
Escambia County is served by the West Florida Regional Library System.
Other unincorporated communities
- Pine Barren
- "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Escambia County, Florida". www.census.gov.
- "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Escambia County Alabama History - accessed August 18, 2009
- Alabama Department of Archives and History - accessed August 18, 2009
- Today in Florida History!, July 21, 2012, www.myfloridahistory.org, Florida Historical Society, Cocoa, Florida
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved March 26, 2020.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
- "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
- "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
- "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
- "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
- 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.
- Roy L. Austin, Jr. (22 May 2013). "Findings Letter of Investigation of Escambia County Jail" (PDF).
- (Nielsen DMA#59) Archived 2006-05-17 at the Wayback Machine
- "Market Ranks". www.arbitron.com.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-16. Retrieved 2013-11-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-10-24. Retrieved 2016-10-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
- "Bogia, 1936". fcit.usf.edu.
- Butler, J. Michael. Beyond Integration: The Black Freedom Struggle in Escambia County, Florida, 1960 -1980 (University of North Carolina Press, 2016). xx, 326 pp.
Sources incorporated into this article
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" (PDF).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Escambia County, Florida.|
- Escambia County
- Escambia County School District
- Historic issues of the Pensacola Journal (1905-1904) at Florida and Puerto Rico Digital Newspaper Project