“The reason we’re getting this is because the detention facility we have in Raymond isn’t as stable as it should be, and we’ve put money into it, over $4 million, and we still have serious problems”, Supervisory Board Chairman Credell Calhoun said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Since 2016, the county has been under an executive order requiring it to remedy unconstitutional conditions at the jail.
Construction is expected to begin on a new jail within two years on McDowell Road next to the Henely-Young Juvenile Justice Center, county officials said. The prison is expected to be built in two phases, starting with 200 prison beds and some amenities such as a dining hall and a courtroom.
Sheriff Tyree Jones said his office and the board of supervisors are committed to meeting the requirements of the consent decree, including security.
“The construction of a new detention center is a very important key because it is linked to the situation in which we currently find ourselves,” he said. “This shows that we are dedicated to the citizens of Hinds County when it comes to citizen safety and inmate safety.”
Building the prison in stages will help relieve some of the pressure at the Raymond facility, Jones said.
Calhoun said sources of funding for the first phase are in place, but money for future phases could come from a county raise. the mileage rate, which is tied to property and real estate taxes and helps the county generate revenue. The goal is also to get state and federal support to help with the project, he said.
The announcement comes a week after jail hearings ended at the federal courthouse in Jackson.
US District Court Judge Carlton Reeves heard from the county officials, including Jones, court-appointed monitors for the jail, and other witnesses to determine how well the county has met the requirements of the executive order.
Reeves will decide the future of the detention center, including placing the detention center under a federal receivershipas recommended by the federal government, and rescinding the decreewhat the county requested.
Calhoun said Tuesday the county will move forward with a new jail whether or not the jail goes into receivership.
The US Department of Justice has been involved in the planned prison planning process over the past year, he said.
The new prison will allow for direct monitoring of inmates, which is a requirement in the Consent Decree and does not routinely occur at the Raymond Detention Center.
Staffing shortages were another issue raised during the hearings, and a federal government attorney asked if the county could staff a new jail.
Jones said approved salary increases and other incentives will help with staffing.
Journalist Mina Corpuz can be reached by email at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter @mlcorpuz.