- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The attorney for the Hinds County Board of Supervisors expects settlement talks will begin soon with the Justice Department over a federal investigation that found violations of inmates’ rights at two local jails.

The Clarion-Ledger reports (https://on.thec-l.com/1Q2PoNq ) attorney Pieter Teeuwissen told board members Monday that spending money to fix problems at the detention centers won’t alone settle the Justice Department complaint.

“It’s not just a matter of funding,” Teeuwissen said.

In a letter to the county in May, Justice Department lawyers said the two jails have been far inadequate to overcome decrepit physical conditions, rampant violence and poor staffing.

The government is demanding more and better-trained guards, a classification system to separate inmates based on risks, jail policies to keep inmates from remaining stuck in jail past their release dates and a long-term plan to make physical improvements.

The letter mainly focused on the Hinds County Adult Detention Center in Raymond but also includes the Jackson Detention Center, next to the county courthouse in Jackson.

Supervisors have argued the county has corrected many of the physical and maintenance problems cited in the Justice Department report.

However, Teeuwissen said what comes out of the negotiations could be something radically different than how jails are now operated in the county.

He said based upon what has happened in other areas, a receiver could be appointed by a federal judge to oversee jail operations during the period of a consent decree, which would likely last three to five years.

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

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