Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Monitor pulls no punches on Raymond jail & Sheriff in court.

Note: The Kingfish attended the hearing in Gulfport yesterday. 

The monitor for the Hinds County Detention Centers inspected the jails and found them very wanting.  She pointed out numerous deficiencies as Hinds County Sheriff Victor Mason repeatedly failed to remedy problems at the Raymond Detention Center.    The Sheriff sat stoically in the Gulfport federal courtroom as the monitor described a state of affairs where prisoners were held after they should have been released, inmates had easy access to contraband,  deadlines imposed by the court were missed, and numerous other problems that plagued the detention centers still existed.  However, the worst charge she made was that the Sheriff allowed detention-center positions to be used for other purposes.  U.S. Magistrate Judge John Gargiulo did not take any action against Hinds County or Sheriff Mason but instead ordered another conference to be held in the fall. 

The Hinds County Sheriff's Department, Hinds County Board of Supervisors, and Justice Department entered into a consent decree a year ago after the Justice Department investigated county detention centers.  The consent decree required the appointment of a monitoring team to inspect the detention centers and periodically report to the court the progress made in implementing the consent decree.

Court-appointed Monitor Elizabeth Simpson (J.D.), thanked Sheriff Mason and his staff for being very cooperative
 She began her report to the court by stating the conditions of the detention centers were "seriously deficient " when the consent decree was issued a year ago.  She said the main problem then and now was an "extreme lack of staffing."  She hammered on that theme throughout her report to the court.  She said that a year ago prisoners were "to a large extent unsupervised.  That led to assaults, riots, and contraband problems.  There was a long ways to go."  Earlier post with copy of Monitor's report.

"The most critical area is lack of adequate staffing" said Ms. Simpson.  She said it would be impossible to comply with the consent decree.  The detention centers currently have 251 authorized positions but 51 are vacant.  She said a recent analysis concluded there should be 433 authorized positions.  The detention centers were operating with half of "the needed staff" while the Raymond Detention Center was operating at 33% of its needed staffing.  She said each control room oversees a pod that in turn is composed of several units.  There should be a Corrections Officer in each control room while another ones roams among the units but there is often only one Corrections Officer on duty in the control room and the roving patrol almost never takes place.  RDC was built as a direct supervision facility but is not operated as such due to a lack of employees.


 Hinds County Attorney Pieter Teeuwissen disputed some of Ms. Simpson's understaffing claims. He told the court that "433 is a number that was provided to the county for the first time on June 30.  The county has had that number for all of ten days and has not had an opportunity to discuss it with Mr. Parish.  I don't want your honor to think the Board has failed to budget (for these positions) when it was just discovered.  The total number of budgeted position's for the Sheriff's department is 430.  That includes the jail, patrol officers, secretaries, everything."

Ms. Simpson pointed out more problems that have occurred at the jail since the consent decree was issued.  She said that the lack of staffing has allowed too much contraband to enter the jail.  A shakedown at the Raymond Detention Center and Work Center yielded 43 cellphones, 39 cellphone chargers, 29 shanks, weed, and 38 dvds and cds.  She said there are frequent breaches of security.  Inmates are able to pull welding off of the doors.  Between March and May there were 16 reported security breached that included escapes and creating holes in walls.  Indeed, the monitor's May report stated: 

While shakedowns may occur on an irregular basis, there is no schedule and record to reflect that such is happening.  Indicative of this shortfall was the recent escape at the RDC that occurred just prior to the Super Bowl football game.  A prisoner literally pounded and chiseled a hole in the exterior wall of his cell, exited the facility and was captured by the outside security officer as he attempted to retrieve contraband items that an outside accomplice had thrown over the perimeter fence. The ease of access to contraband items by prisoners is exacerbated by the fact that deputies are not assigned to duty inside each housing unit as they should be. Over a period of just three days in early April, large holes were found in the perimeter fence and the exterior walls of two cells in A Pod at the RDC.  During a follow up cell search, a mobile phone, a “shank” and thirty unauthorized blankets were recovered..... (p.20)
 As an indicator of non-compliance, on March 4, 2017, three prisoners escaped from the RDC.  Their escape was not even noted until an arresting officer from another agency called the facility and reported that there was a prisoner outside of the facility by A Pod. A review of records revealed that the officer responsible for conducting the head count prior to the incident had obviously counted a “body” as opposed to a prisoner. No corrective action or recommendation by a supervisor was noted on any incident report.  In fact, some forms were not even signed by a supervisor.  Certainly, nothing went to the level of the Captain or Major... (p.30)
The staffing problems have also resulted in a lack of maintenance.  Thus there is much structural damage to the facility.  The staff has welded doors shut to the recreation yards and other areas.  Prisoners have learned to break the welds and then cover them with a dark paste.  Such ingenuity allows them to get on the roof.  This is how several escapes happened and and it also allows them to get contraband that has been tossed over the fence.  There were showers that could not be turned off.  Lights in one holding cell didn't work nor did the ventilation.  Officers can't open the door to one booking cell but instead have to ask the prisoner to open it from inside the cell.  However, the monitor said "some progress has been made."  The Jackson Detention Center has "had a real facelift" while the Sheriff has tried to clean up some of the units at the Raymond Detention Center but that is almost impossible to do due to the staffing problems.

Attorneys will recognize the phrase "co-mingling of funds".  The monitor alleged something similar was taking place in the Sheriff's budget.  She said "one problem is the use of detention positions for non-detention purposes."  She said the monitoring team needed to determine which ones were used.  The Sheriff has two divisions: operations and detention.  Judge Gargiulo asked Ms. Simpson "Under whose authority has that happened?"  She replied that it would have to be permitted by the Sheriff.  Judge Gargiulo said "There are funds in the budget.  That sounds like one issue." She said staffing was another issue.  The Judge asked "Is there a reason the funds are being pulled from the detention budget?"  Ms. Simpson said "That is something we need to address."

Mr. Teeuwissen told the court near the end of the hearing that the county has pulled reserves to deal with the jail and currently faces a deficit.  He said that if the budgeted positions for the detentions division are increased from 250 to 350*, the county has no insurance that the money will be spent by the Sheriff on detention.

Judge Gargiulo asked Sheriff Mason how much it cost to house a prisoner.  He did not reply and someone else said no analysis had been done (KF note: Think about that one.).  

The Hinds County Sheriff's Department had no Policies & Procedures Manual (PPM) in place for all detention centers when it entered into the consent decree.  Ms. Simpson said practices at the detention centers was "all over the map" as they all operated independently but function more as a system.  The Sheriff did not submit a draft manual until April- at least two months after the deadline.  The draft faces revisions.  The monitor and Justice Department said the failure to have a manual created many problems in determining who to hold responsible for problems at the detention centers.  The Justice Department said the delays in creating a manual "throws off everything else."

Hinds County has had a catch & release problem for quite some time but the detentions centers apparently have a catch & keep problem as well.  Prisoners are too often held in jail when they should not be in jail.  The monitor found that 10 of 25 files she reviewed were lacking paperwork to justify detention on fines.  17 prisoners had been in jail for more than 90 days even though they were on the unindicted list.  10 of 1l probation revocation files lacked any documentation showing why the prisoner was still a prisoner.  Some prisoners had holds that were lifted or simply didn't exist.  One prisoner was held "three months too long" before he was released.  Another was held for six months with "no documentation for holding him."

There were also 40 people in jail who were to work off fees and fines after the court ordered them to do so.  These prisoners committed misdemeanor violations and were convicted in either Justice or Municipal courts.  Ms. Simpson said constitutional law was quite clear (Tate v. Short) that fines could not be converted to prison sentences.  She recommended that the detention center tell the court it was issuing an illegal order.  The Judge called these sentences "illegal" and that it went back to staffing issues. He added "you can't earn an income while incarcerated."    Mr. Teewuseen said that new rules of criminal procedure enacted in Mississippi addressed this issue.   He also added that Justice Jim Kitchens was holding seminars or training classes on the new rules.

Next up on deck was the issue of booking.  The monitor said booking was very poor in both facilities.  The cells and doors are outdated.  There is no way to actually see into the cells.  There is much overcrowding. Classification of prisoners has improved from five to seven days a week although the monitor recommends improving it to 24 hours per day.  Medical care needed improvement as well as the doctor only visits every two weeks and the detention centers are short four nurses.  Mental health services were determined to be severely lacking.  A juvenile who tried to commit suicide was left in a cell without clothes or a blanket for a week. 

The monitor said that the Sheriff has not adhered to deadlines and "that continues to be an ongoing problem."  The Staffing study that was due in January was submitted in JUne.  The Policies & Procedures Manual should have been submitted in February but was not completed until April and submitted in June and is still not "finalized."

Judge Gargiulo said "the goal should be compliance and should preclude the necessity of a motion (for contempt of court) if the terms and conditions are not being met."  He continued:

Now what may be included with that is a judicial determination that someone in the courtroom is not in compliance, there is the potential that you could be found in contempt.  I don't see how that would be in anyone's best interest that you are found in contempt.  There may be sanctions imposed.  What this court is encouraging is coordination between the Board of Supervisors and  the Sheriff's Department.  
The Justice Department lawyer said "as of January of this year, the department could have brought a contempt motion.  We are here today to look at the Sheriff's Department and Board of Supervisors to show they have a plan they can implement.  She said the Sheriff's Department needed to complete the required self-assessment.  She finished her response by stating "We need to see something immediately so we don't bring a contempt motion now".

Mr. Teewussen responded by pointing out someone who was not present in the courtroom but is heavily involved in the criminal justice system: Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith.   He said

 the Hinds County Board of Supervisors  has no control over the District Attorney. The District Attorney has been invited to every meeting to help solve these problems.  The District Attorney remains engaged in other priorities and I leave it at that. We have retained a consultant but we will begin those meetings.  We don't know how to move forward until we can get the DA engaged.  The Mississippi Supreme Court has expressed its frustration with the Hinds County DA's office. Supreme Court remarks on D.A.'s control of docket.

The monitor will submit a report based upon her most recent inspection to the lawyers and finalize it within thirty days if it is not challenged.  The Judge ordered a telephonic conference to be held in September after consulting with all parties.  Ms. Simpson said she wanted to follow that conference up with another "in-person conference" at the end of October or beginning of November.  

Note: Officials present in courtroom were: Sheriff Victor Mason, Chief Deputy Pete Luke, Warden Mary Rushing, Supervisors Mike Morgan and Darrell McQuirter, County Administrator Carmen Davis, Hinds County employee Synarus Green, and attorneys Claire Barker, Anthony Simon, and Pieter Teewussen.

Hinds County operates three detention centers: Raymond, downtown Jackson, and the work center.  Jackson was built in 1972 and has a capacity of 196 beds. The work center was built in 2009 and has a capacity of 400 beds.  It holds pre-trial misdemeanors and is properly staffed.  Raymond was built in 1994 and has a capacity of 594 people. 


Kingfish note: Regarding the Policies & Procedures manual.  It's hard to determine which rules are being broken if there is no rulebook.  The monitor hammered the Sheriff's Department but the Judge took no action.  The monitor's May report was based upon her first thorough inspection.  Everyone now knows what the problems are.  It will not be surprising if the Judge takes a harder line if the fall report shows nothing has changed in Raymond.

Perhaps its time for the Sheriff to reorient the focus of his department towards maintaining the jail.  Keep enough deputies to patrol the unincorporated parts of Hinds County but direct the rest of the resources and personnel towards running the jail.

What really needs to happen is that Raymond jail needs to be blown up after a new one is downtown or close to it.  The jail was born in the original sins of corruption and incompetence and at some point the county needs to get away from it.  Yes, the county has no money but something has to change.  

*350 was used as an example. 

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mmmhmm. That's good and all, but did anyone in the courtroom answer "Question 3?"

http://kingfish1935.blogspot.com/2017/02/third-sexual-harassment-lawsuit-filed.html

Anonymous said...

Hinds County needs to get out of the jail business... it's the sheriff's fault... its the BOS fault... just get out of the jail business.

One less thing Spoon-nut has to deal with

Anonymous said...

Great article Kingfish!

Victor again has shown his ignorance and incompetence in everything he touches, much like Tyrone Lewis. But Victors arrogance in just not responding to anything the DOJ wanted is just plain idiotic and shows his true worth..NOTHING!

Inmates with no supervision, no paperwork, Breakouts, Continuance of contraband..

50 people short in the jail, working at 12% per shift..forcing certified deputies to work the jail now..

He won't only have a Jail shortage, he'll have a S.O shortage in all departments.

It's over Victor, THATS A WRAP buddy!.

Anonymous said...

Sheriff Mason is a short-timer. He is the epitome of gross incompetence.

Anonymous said...

Victor! You have failed your friends, you've failed your voters, you've failed your employees and most importantly, you've failed your dear sweet mother, God rest her soul..
Victor, its been so disappointing watching this endeavour fail. We knew your mother and she just wouldn't allow, nor tolerate the way you've treated your employees and the community.

GOD Bless you Son.

Anonymous said...

@7:36, Oh wow! Victors being scolded by his real voters..
Good for 7:36!

Scream calf rope Victor, its over. Your non compliance as usual will be in contempt and the Federal judge will show a local what consequences are for once.

Lol, you got scolded...thats great stuff there.

Anonymous said...

Victor is not doing anything that Tyrone didn't do. Nobody wants to run the jail, that's not the fun part of being sheriff.

Lot's of Victor haters on here....or maybe one that just types a lot. But how many voters really care?

The real issue that the Feds need to look into is the justice system in Hinds County. The jail would not be an issue if the justice system was functional at a basic level.

Anonymous said...

Mason plasters photos of himself all over his office, dresses like a big daddy, keeps his hair just perfect and always smells real nice. He thinks that he be soooo pretty too. Slick Vic, he dumb as a stick!

Woo yeah, I want me summa that!

Anonymous said...

Victor i know you read these things. You dream of becoming sheriff has become your nightmare. All of the shucking and jiving that you've been so good at all your life will not help you when you have to give a federal judge a straight answer. You dont want to give that answer because to do that would be to admit the simple truth which is you simply do not know anything about anything except shucking and jiving and that pains you to have to admit. Victor it is over and you are going out only to be recorded as the dooshbag some of the people suspected that you were only to have you prove it to everyone by your own actions or lack there of. I can assure you that your mom is turning over in her grave at the disgusting and disgraceful way you have conducted yourself and your business. Your word unlike her's means nothing to no one. Think about it Victor you can't even hire a good staff. None of them including your right hand man Pete Luke even knew the answers in court, and they will let you hang yourself. You wanted the job...

Kingfish said...

The Judge literally and directly asked the Sheriff how much it cost to house a prisoner and he didn't answer the question. I mean didn't say a word.

JJ is #1 said...

More deep, deep shoe-leather reporting here Sweetheart but, of course, your entertainment weekly has is all covered. Yeah, Right.

Anonymous said...

Ole Pete will probably be running over to Pearl P.D with his good ole boy Dean just as things start heating up and he'leave his ole buddy Vic holding the bag, just like he did his ole buddy Mac.

Mac told you not to hire Pete,or Nick Clarke and you did it anyway,knowing Mac's health and he couldn't do anything about it afterwards anyway.

You've shown who all your 1980s JPD buddies always knew you were Victor...a stupid, sniveling, coward ass, lazy POS.

Spooners gonna wipe the floor with you Son.
Stop threatening your employees too with, your fired if I hear you say SPOONERS name, or Your fired if we catch you on your county cell phone or county computer looking up salaries on Jackson Jambalaya..

Your scared now ain't ya. Thought SPOONER wasn't a threat Victor...shhhhhh, I'll whisper it...

WERE COMING VICTOR..

Anonymous said...

who's Spooner? And who is it running this fan club? Recognize that Victor is done and gonna be gone, but how does this translate?

How Do We Overlook 101? said...

All that needed to be in the report is this: THERE IS STILL NO POLICIES AND PROCEDURE MANUAL.

Without one, you can't plan, you can't organize, you can't staff, you can't command, you can't control, you can't evaluate, and you can't train. in short, you can NOT operate.

That is basic 101 whether you're running a ball-cap outlet at the mall, a dry cleaner's, a whore house or a manufacturing operation with 2600 people on three shifts.

Anonymous said...

Spooner will NEVER be Sheriff in Hinds County no matter what happens with this Sheriff. Hinds County voters have better options that that. Spooner is his own biggest fan.

Sory To Break his News said...

Spooner retired when Ringling Brothers folded its tents two months ago.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for better options, but realistically I can't think of a better option than Spooner right now. He's had experience doing everything at the SO from working in the jail, patrol, narcotics, warrants...worked his way up to supervisor in most of the divisions (and was successful). Of course he was a United States Marine so that should give you a heads up there. No, I can't think of a better man for the job provided if we can get him to apply, but i'd imagine the leaders in the community are probably already reaching out to him....no, i'm sure they are. They are sick of this clown victor and his buddies pete and nick.

Fork Spooner said...

Who the hell ever heard of this Spooner guy except the clown who keeps posting his name?

Anonymous said...

From the looks of your comments he's somebody that victor, pete luke and nick clark are scared of being exposed by. You boys will learn one day, an honest days pay for an honest days work helps you sleep better at night, but you'd rather be hustling folks. Maybe the feds will start looking into the books of the SO. If vic pete and nick cant run the jail why should we trust their accounting ability??? Folks usually go to jail for mishandling the tax payers moneys when the feds look into it.

What a waste to a good career. Could have retired and rode off into the sunset with no one the else knowing your dirty little secrets, but you stuck around, got greedy and will be exposed and remembered for the con men you really are as your lead away...

Anonymous said...

An earlier post said, VICTORS doing no more than Tyrone did. That's exactly why Tywrong lost and Victor will lose. Neither knows absolutely anything about running a Jail, which is any sheriff's primary concern. All other division will work themselves out as they always do.

They knew that going into it and still signed up for it, thinking they could slick their way through it. slick talking, deflecting and quick quips will only get ya so far.

Spooner knows all facets of the S.O due to 25 years of hands on Raymond and Downtown Jail experience. Actually, light years ahead of what McMillan knew when he was elected in 92, with no experience of running a Sheriffs office. Spooner has Booking, Patrol, Narcotics, Federal Task forces, Warrants..Light years ahead of Mac, Lewis and especially Victor.

VICTORS ego and and just lack of good basic common sense intelligence, has enabled him to fail this early and will only get worse.

So to all you naysayers, who say Spooner doesn't have a chance..He's already acquired more than enough to get into at this point.

Civic Leaders, Community Leaders, City Leaders, Clergy, Financial contributors,all who Victor once had.

So to say he doesn't have a chance shows your not keeping up. We applaud you.

Keep firing your people, forcing them to quit and no more applicants to choose from..
Where's my popcorn!

Kingfish said...

Ok, enough of the spooning, back to the subject of the post.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious why this case was assigned to a division of the District Court on the Coast, when there's a shiny, new federal courthouse in -- wait for it -- Hinds County.

Anonymous said...

picking a nit here: jail guards are not "deputies". deputies are certified law enforcement officers, guards generally are not such

Anonymous said...

The real question is, We all know Victor won't and can't be compliant. So what will the Federal judge impose on ole Victor since he'll be in CONTEMPT.

The numbers and improvements to the Jail are financially and physically impossible in the timeframe and even no matter what the time frame would be.

Poor CLAIR really tried to help Victor, but he just won't listen.

He and Lewis suffer too much with Egoitis.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, Now what's going to happen to the jail if the judge takes it from Victor?

What's the real options now?

Anonymous said...

As a 28 year Law Enforcement Veteran I started out in a small county jail, and then came to Hinds County RDC. When I was there there was a Deputy in each unit (4total), Deputy in pod control (1total), and at least two hall escorts at all times. Booking was staffed with plenty of people for each shift, transportation was staffed, and the front desk was always manned. We rarely had a major problem other than the occasional inmate scuffle. How did Mac do this you may ask It's simple he did not pay people out of the jail budget that did not work in a jail capacity. If you look at the list of employees for Hinds county you will have Enforcement people paid under the jail budget, and "administrative assistants" (secretaries) making over 3K a month paid out of the jail budget while you have veteran LEOs making less than 2K a month. HCSO also has more of those "administrative" assistants than I have ever seen. The solution is simple, but evidently since Victor has led a privlaged career of being placed in ranking position by people he has fooled like he did myself and many others he has never worked in a jail so he has no idea what it takes. Victor hires people like Pete Luke who has never worked in a jail, as a patrolman, or investigator. Pete will tell you he is a certified officer, but he is not he used his back channel good ole boy connections to have his RESERVE certification turned into a full time certification. If you don't believe me ask him what his MELOTA class number was, or go out to MELOTA and look for his picture among all my brothers, and sisters that have graduated MELOTA. Pete is the right hand of evil at that department, and he is a major contributor to it's continuing failures (sorry I digressed). All that being said I know Spooner personally, and I do believe he IS the right man for the job because he does in fact have the experience, and knowledge to run things right. Most importantly Spooner like myself cares about Hinds County we want to see it return to its glory days of long ago.
The Watcher

Anonymous said...

Oh, Tom "Dolezal" Head is going to be mad at you people!

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, i know this isn't funny, but it is in a sick sense of humor way. Mac was the first sheriff for numerous things over the years, tywrong was the first black sheriff of hinds county, and ole slic vic he's working on his first to...being the first sheriff in Hinds county to be in contempt and pissing off a federal judge and the DOJ and getting his butt thrown in jail. Oh well, first time for everything...

Kingfish said...

I'll be surprised if there is any action taken against sheriff in the worst case except for receivership or giving jail directly to BOS

Anonymous said...

How can the BOS run the Jail?

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