Former sheriff, former chief deputy refute Crisler’s claims that supervisors directed inmate transfers
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A former Hinds County sheriff and a former chief deputy now running for the position are speaking out after Sheriff Marshand Crisler said previous administrations allowed supervisors to direct inmate transfers at the Raymond Detention Center.
Friday, Crisler said he was changing the policy after it was discovered that board President Credell Calhoun had ordered a detainee be moved to the jail’s lower-security work center, despite that detainee not being qualified for the move.
“The previous administration had a relationship with the board of supervisors where the president of the board may make a phone call on behalf of a constituent so that the inmate may be relocated,” Crisler said. “That is not uncommon... but it’s not a policy that I support.”
Eric Wall, who says he resigned on September 3, served under the late Sheriff Lee Vance, and former Sheriff Tyrone Lewis, who was in office from 2012 to 2016, says supervisors have never been allowed to direct inmate transfers, and would not have been allowed to even if they tried.
“That policy was not put in place in my administration,” Lewis said. “I don’t know where that came from.”
Lewis likened the board of supervisors to a landlord, which was responsible for maintaining a facility but could not direct activities inside it.
“They’re responsible for maintaining upkeep,” he said. “The sheriff is the tenant (and is) responsible for the inmates.”
Wall also denied supervisors could direct inmate transfers. “Absolutely inaccurate. Either this is a situation of incompetence or a situation where the person that is the interim sheriff of Hinds County just has no idea of what’s doing.”
Wall served as chief deputy under the late Sheriff Vance, who passed away from COVID-19 in August. Wall went on to serve as acting sheriff until Crisler was appointed to the position on an interim basis in mid-August.
He was put on administrative leave by Crisler in late August and is now running against Crisler to fill the remainder of Vance’s term.
As for the detainee transfer policy under Vance, Wall said no inmates would be moved unless they met certain criteria and that supervisors in no way were involved in the process.
“We had steps in place. We had protocols in place,” he said. “We would contact the jail administrator or the assistant jail administrator, and in turn, they would contact the lieutenant that is in charge of the particular area (where the inmate is housed), and they would do the background check on them to see if they (were) eligible to move... I couldn’t move anybody.”
Of criterion, administrators would look at a detainee’s charges, bond amounts, and whether they had behavioral issues. Additionally, they would look at the detainee’s medical condition and whether they needed continued police protection.
“The work center is an open bay, so there is very little protection in an open bay community,” Wall explained.
Wall and Lewis said no supervisors ever contacted them about transfers and they were unaware of supervisors contacting the jail directly.
“All of our inmates were classified and we kept them under their classified position,” Lewis said. “Transfers were not common and supervisors were never involved.”
Documents obtained by WLBT show Calhoun had ordered jail administrators to transfer detainee Miguel Forbes to the work center.
The September 16 order was approved by Hinds County Assistant Jail Administrator Travis Crain, but comments show that Forbes did “not meet the classification criteria” for the move.
Forbes was arrested by the Clinton Police in July and is charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a concealed weapon, possession of a stolen firearm, possession of marijuana, and disorderly conduct.
He previously was convicted of selling marijuana in Rankin County but had completed his sentence in 2017, according to the Hinds County District Attorney’s Office.
Clinton Police could not be reached for comment.
Calhoun denied he ordered jailers to relocate Forbes. “I don’t order anything with the jail,” he said.
Calhoun says he made the request after being contacted by Forbes’ family. He said the family asked if the detainee could be transferred to the work center so he could begin paying off fines.
“I thought it was a pretty good deal for Hinds County because we’re definitely overcrowded at the detention center,” he said. “We’re trying to do as much as we can to relieve our burden. And we’ve had quite a bit of breakout of COVID, so we’re trying to reduce that number as much as we can.”
In July, a major outbreak was reported at the Raymond Detention Facility and work center. At one point, 65 detainees and 14 employees had tested positive for the virus.
Wall said Calhoun’s argument doesn’t hold water.
“Mr. Supervisor, you should know better than anybody else that the work center was the central housing location for all our detainees that had COVID,” he said. “Why would we move someone down there if we’re having COVID in that building? That’s just not true.”
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