Court ‘intends’ to decide on federal takeover of Hinds Co. Detention Center in February

District Court Judge Carlton Reeves
District Court Judge Carlton Reeves
Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 10:19 AM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves said he will decide on whether he’ll put the Hinds County Detention Center under federal receivership some time in February.

Meanwhile, he scheduled an evidentiary hearing for the week of January 24 and has given each side in the case two days to put on evidence.

The judge also is ordering attorneys for the county and the U.S. Department of Justice to submit the names and curriculum vitae for “two to three potential receivers.”

“The court promised a hearing on whether a receivership should be created to operate (the Raymond Detention Center),” the order states. “The parties are presently working to produce a stipulated factual record.”

Proposed findings of fact, exhibit lists, and witness lists, as well as the information on potential receivers, are due to the court by the close of business on January 19.

It’s unclear exactly what a federal receivership would look like. However, it is likely that the county and the sheriff would lose at least partial control of jail operations and that a federal receiver would be appointed to implement consent decree mandates.

“I can tell you this. A receivership says that the county would supply the funds and the DOJ would handle all the operations of the jail,” said District 3 Supervisor Credell Calhoun. “We don’t want that.”

The order comes less than two months after Reeves issued a show-cause order to tell him why the county should not be held in contempt and why the jail should not be put into receivership.

At the heart of the matter was the county’s failure to comply with a federal consent decree designed to improve living conditions at the jail. Hinds County entered into the decree with DOJ in 2016.

Reeves voiced his frustration for the county’s lack of compliance in the November 24 order.

“It is now 2021. Much has changed in the world, the United States, the state of Mississippi, and even in Hinds County. Not so for the RDC,” Reeves wrote. “The unconstitutional conditions have not been remediated – they have no end in sight, in fact. And the county’s failure to remedy the conditions has caused ‘needless suffering and death.’ including six deaths so far this year.”

Six detainees died while in custody at the Raymond Detention Center in 2021, with the latest occurring in October. That individual, Michael Richardson, was found in the jail’s notorious A-Pod. A preliminary investigation determined that he had been assaulted by several inmates and died after a “medical episode.”

Other deaths include:

  • March 19 – an inmate died after jail workers refused to take him to the hospital on nurse’s orders
  • April 18 – a man hung himself in his cell when the officer on duty was not at his post
  • July 6 – death by hanging, although the record is not clear whether it was a suicide
  • August 3 – drug overdose; inmates reported they had been calling for assistance for five hours, but did not receive help
  • August 4 – COVID-19 complications; the monitoring team said there were questions as to when his symptoms first appeared and whether they were “timely and adequately responded to.”

In December, the county asked Reeves for an additional six months to address concerns at the jail.

Proceedings are expected to begin at 9 a.m., January 24, in courtroom 5B at the federal courthouse in downtown Jackson.

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