- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi Department of Corrections is moving state inmates out of the Hinds County jail in Raymond because of problems that federal authorities found there.

State Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher said 41 inmates were moved from the local jail back to state-run prison facilities Tuesday.

“Pursuant to consulting with MDOC’s lawyers, we believe removing the state inmates is in the best interest of the state of Mississippi and the inmates,” Fisher said in a news release.

Hinds County officials said they are taking swift action after being told by the U.S. Department of Justice that jail facilities in Jackson and Raymond are “in crisis.”

The officials plan to give jail employees a pay raise, hire a criminal justice coordinator to expedite inmates’ journey through the court system and reconsider a contract with the city of Jackson to house some of its detainees, The Clarion-Ledger reported (https://on.thec-l.com/1SA3rJ3 ).

The department, which launched its investigation after a series of violent incidents, found numerous problems at the facilities.

The report highlighted staffing problems and the county’s failure to protect prisoners’ constitutional rights. Many prisoners were also detained beyond their court-ordered release dates.

To increase both safety and supervision, repairs are being made to the Raymond facility so that corrections officers can observe every cell while still being in an enclosed area, Board of Supervisors President Peggy Hobson Calhoun said.

Supervisor Tony Greer mentioned the possibility of building a new facility, which he estimated would cost around $30 million to $45 million. The 594-bed facility in Raymond was built in 1994, and the 192-bed facility in Jackson was built in 1974.

“If, at the end of the day, we have to look at building a new facility, that will require a whole different approach to financing,” Greer said.

Sheriff Tyrone Lewis said his department is working with the board to increase the salaries of corrections officers, who currently make about $1,200 to $1,300 per month after taxes, retirement and insurance costs are taken out.

If county officials have not satisfactorily dealt with the concerns outlined in the letter to the county after 49 days, the U.S. attorney general may sue under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.

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

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