Hinds County officials look to implement alert system for jail escapes following Christmas Day incident

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 6:51 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The escapes of two Hinds County inmates on Christmas Day is prompting officials to implement an alert system for future incidents.

A number of people in the Raymond area expressed frustration because they weren’t aware of the incident until long after it happened.

The sheriff says as soon as he got wind of the escape, he notified the public but that wasn’t until several hours after the inmates broke free because of an “administrative failure.”

With an alert system in place and no administrative failure… the public could know when escapees are on the loose almost immediately.

“Anytime something like this happens, we need to let the public know and let the people in that immediate area know that the facility is secure or not secure, who we’re looking for, and exactly what has transpired,” Hinds County Sheriff Tyree Jones said.

Sheriff Jones said it’s crucial the county implements an alert system that’s quicker and wider-reaching than him posting the information to social media.

“We have to be able to think about a way that we can spread information if something like this does happen. For the people who don’t necessarily have smartphones, the people who don’t have social media, and just don’t have that direct access to the media,” he said.

The move is one that all Hinds County supervisors seem to be in support of especially after receiving several phone calls from residents after the last escape.

“We had an individual that works in this building come up to me and say, ‘I did not feel safe because I did not know,’” Hinds County Board of Supervisor Robert Graham said.

Graham says negotiations are underway with companies that could provide what the county is looking for, which is a system that would ping people’s cell phones if they’re in a certain radius of the Raymond Detention Center.

Another option he’s exploring is modifying and updating the county’s current severe weather system, “Code Red,” to include alerts for incidents at the county jail.

Regardless of what specific system is put into place… Sheriff Jones says it has nothing to do with a lack of confidence in the facility.

“It’s not geared towards the safety of the facility or that we are anticipating it happening again. This is just a proactive measurement to have an extra tool in place to be able to alert the public about what’s going on in our detention facilities,” he said.

One of the inmates who escaped last month remains on the loose and the other is in custody in Dallas County, Texas.

As for this alert system, Supervisor Graham hopes to have it up and running within the next three months.

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