Hinds Co. Sheriff says injunction a ‘step in the right direction’ toward addressing jail needs

Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 3:09 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Hinds County Sheriff Tyree Jones said the new injunction handed down to address living conditions at the Raymond Detention Center is a step in the right direction.

Thursday, Jones discussed the recent orders handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves in the jail takeover case.

Jones said the 2016 consent order has been done away with and replaced with a new permanent injunction to govern jail operations.

“Again, we’re still awaiting the outcome or the final ruling of the trial. But this is how we will continue to operate on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

Wednesday, Reeves granted an order to strike portions of the county’s 2016 jail consent decree and put in place a permanent injunction mandating the county put in place new policies governing everything from use of force to sexual misconduct investigations.

Jones said several mandates in the injunction are already being put in place.

“Ever since the last day of court, the very next day, I was here along with the staff of Detention Services, and we had already begun to address some of the issues that are in the injunction itself,” he said.

Among them, the county has given detention center workers two raises in as many years and has increased starting pay for detention officers to $31,000.

“There are other incentives we want to put in place. We want to have something like a step plan, where if you come to detention services, once you come in, you are able to go through the ranks as a detention officer if that’s what you choose to do,” he said. “We don’t want you to just come in and start at what we consider now a competitive salary and be stuck there.”

He said one class is currently going through detention officer certification and another class is lined up to go through training after that.

The county also is conducting a search for a new jail administrator.

Under the injunction, the county is required to address staffing issues at the jail, including ensuring the RDC “is overseen by a qualified jail administrator and a leadership team with substantial education, training, and experience in the management of a large jail.”

The previous jail administrator, Kathryn Bryan, resigned under both Sheriffs Marshand Crisler and Tyree Jones.

Jones dismissed Bryan days before her resignation was expected to take effect.

The jail is currently under the leadership of Frank Shaw. However, the court has stated Shaw does not meet the requirements of the decree or injunction.

Jones said other priorities include continuing to make repairs and other improvements at the roughly 30-year-old facility, adding that he was open to holding detainees accountable for damaging jail property.

“Just because they are detainees does not mean that they can’t be held responsible or accountable for the damage that they cause to the facility,” he said.

An evidentiary hearing was held in February and early March to determine whether the jail should be taken over and whether the consent decree should be abolished.

Late last year, the judge held the county in contempt for failing to bring the RDC in compliance with its 2016 or 2020 stipulated order. He also issued a show-cause order requiring the county to tell him why the jail should not be put in federal receivership.

The county then filed a motion to have the decree terminated under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, arguing, in part, that the decree overreached beyond the “constitutional minimum” to bring the jail into compliance with federal standards.

Jones, who had spoken with the Department of Justice earlier on Thursday, was not sure if Judge Reeves was still considering a federal takeover of the jail.

“There has not been a final ruling on the outcome of the trial. Now what that could be I’m not exactly sure at this point,” he said. “I can just say that this (the injunction) is a move in the right direction for us and this administration... The consent decree has been lifted. We’re no longer operating by the consent decree, but we are operating by the injunction, which I believe we are more able to due fluidly based on the content that’s included in the injunction.”

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