Hinds Co. sheriff, supervisor explain why it’s crucial to avoid federal takeover of detention center

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 10:44 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The U.S. District Court is expected to decide on a federal takeover of the Hinds County Detention Center in February.

Whether it’s the number of deputies on the streets or the number of new vehicles the department can afford, Sheriff Tyree Jones said he’s not exactly sure what services a federal takeover would affect, only that it will affect some.

”The bulk of our budget would have to be dedicated and contributed to detention services,” Jones said.

As it stands now with the consent decree, the Department of Justice tells the county what improvements need to be made to the jail and the county decides how it gets done.

But District 3 Supervisor Credell Calhoun said that would no longer be the case with a receivership.

“They would run the detention center,” Calhoun said. “It would be completely controlled by the person that they send here, and he would request a budget. And we would have to do the best we can to fund that request.”

Both Calhoun and Jones said it’s no secret that the county needs a new jail.

In all, six detainees died while in custody at the Raymond Detention Center last year alone.

But Calhoun said the board has spent millions of dollars trying to improve living conditions at the facility and hopes the Justice Department will agree that they’re doing all they can.

“We’re working with the Justice Department on the planning and design of the new facility, so I think they’re going to read that we’re doing what we can to justify us having more time to get it done,” he said.

Sheriff Jones wasn’t willing to offer his opinion on whether Supervisor David Archie’s recent decision to let the courts decide who is board president will help the county’s case in proving it’s capable of managing the jail.

However, he said there is one thing that he feels is important to keep in mind moving forward.

“The Department of Justice has made it perfectly clear and some of the people that are responsible for our movement have made it clear that they are watching how we handle business here in Hinds County,” he said.

The hearing was rescheduled for the week of February 14th after the county’s principal litigating attorney contracted COVID-19.

The county intends to file a motion to terminate the consent decree but it’s unclear why the court would consider doing so.

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