Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sheriff rocked in jailhouse report

A Justice Department report blisters the Hinds County Sheriff's Office for its operation of the jail.  The report was submitted to U.S. District Judge John Gargiulo in May by a Justice Department monitor.  The Justice Department sued Hinds County and the Hinds County Sheriff in 2015 for the the Raymond Detention Center's deplorable conditions, inability to protect inmates from violence, and holding inmates past their release dates.  The settlement agreement requires a court-appointed monitor to periodically inspect the jail and report its findings to the court.  The report paints a picture of a jail that is woefully understaffed while inmates all too often control parts of the jail.  The report is posted below.



The monitor  visited the county detention centers in February and issued its first report on May 3.  She wasted no time in disclosing the problems that plague the detention centers:

The overarching problem facing the Hinds County Jail System is the inability to hire and retain enough qualified personnel (deputies) to staff required positions. No matter what other steps are taken to address operational problems within the facilities, compliance with conditions of the Settlement Agreement cannot be achieved until this matter is successfully addressed.

For at least five years, there have not been enough officers on board to staff direct supervision  housing units, particularly at the RDC, as they were originally designed. This has left prisoners in charge, which resulted in riots, prisoner deaths and major structural damage to the facility. Repairs to the jails have not been long-term solutions because, unsupervised, the prisoners are  free to quickly destroy what has been repaired. Until each direct supervision housing unit is continuously staffed, and sufficient escort officers are on board to relieve and back them up, the cycle of facility and equipment destruction cannot be broken.

In order to identify and address a problem it is necessary to record accurate data. Until one has a baseline against which to measure progress, it is impossible to move forward.  The lack of accurate, verifiable data with regard to incidents that occur within the Hinds County Jail System......
The monitor immediately cites a problem that recurs throughout the 62-page report: the lack of a policies and procedures manual.  The Sheriff was supposed to create such a manual but has yet to do so.  The monitor repeatedly states that it is impossible to determine compliance on matters such as use of force because there is no manual for all three facilities although each one had its own in the past. 

Staffing is probably the biggest problem at the detention centers from top to bottom.  It starts at the top: three lieutenant positions are vacant.  Supervisory positions are often vacant as well.  The jail was designed on the "direct supervision" model.  There is just one problem:

While the Raymond Detention Center was designed for and operated that way initially, it will not be able to re-implement Direct Supervision until enough deputies are hired to staff the housing units. The Jackson Detention Center was built before the practice of Direct Supervision was conceived and will never be able to become a Direct Supervision facility because of its design.
The report spells it out when it comes to staffing:

The Jail system has insufficient staff, both authorized and on board, to effectively operate the facilities or fulfill the terms of the Agreement.....
Further, the accuracy of any figures associated with the authorized and actual work force is suspect because neither the County nor the Sheriff’s Office has been able to provide a valid list to date. It is imperative that a comprehensive list of all authorized positions, identified by a permanent position number, and organized by Operations and Detention Division of the Sheriff’s Office, be provided to the Monitor as soon as possible. In order to address the County’s inability to hire and retain enough qualified deputies, it is essential that immediate action be taken to create a competitive salary schedule that recognizes and rewards longevity.  The current system, which pays the same amount to a ten-year deputy as it does to a new hire, is entirely untenable. (p.12)
 The turnover rate among employees creates a world of woe for the Sheriff:

The turnover rate for all three facilities exceeds 20%, while at the RDC, the largest jail, the turnover rate is more than 50%. This results in no staff being available to stand  required posts. With the exception of the Juvenile Unit, all units at the RDC are routinely left unattended.  During the most recent site visit, Pod B did not have a single officer assigned, except for the Control Room, on the second shift (February 8th). This shortage was only rectified when Captain Shields ordered an officer to be pulled from Booking so that there would at least be a rover in the corridors for the Pod. Use of force reports are still suspect in that the number of recorded reports is unrealistically low considering the number of incidents that resulted in media coverage and the level of destruction in the facilities, particularly the RDC. An outcome measures  system is not in place with regard to data collection.  Incident reports requested by the Monitor have not been provided beyond September 2016.
Well-being checks are few and far between at the Raymond Detention Center if the scant documentation is to be believed.  The report that too many employees lack proper training (p.19).  Supervision is criticized as well (p.20):

There is currently no way to confirm that supervisors conduct daily rounds on each shift in the housing units.  A review of unit logs at the RDC does not support such activity there. Nor is there a system in place to identify and correct maintenance issues. This was apparent at each facility where long standing damage and maintenance items go uncorrected.  At the RDC the prisoner wristband system in Booking was found to be out of operation.....

What is the end result of these problems? Escapes.  Read the details of some of the Raymond Detention Center's security problems:

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 settlement agreement requires the Sheriff to purchase and install cellphone jammers.  JJ readers know that such devices are not in use as seen by the numerous publications of Facebook pictures and videos taken at the jail and published on this website. 

The Sheriff was also supposed to develop a gang program at the detention centers.  Sheriff Mason abolished the gang-based program and gang-based unit assignment (p.21) shortly after he took office.  The report states that Sheriff Mason has done nothing to address the gang problem in his jails (p.21, #49).  Booking cells are used for long-term use even though they are not equipped for actual housing. (p.36). 

The report cites more problems.  Segregation units are left unattended for the "duration" of the prisoner's stay (p.39).  The GED program was suspended in February due to the lack of a provider although the warden was trying to obtain one (p.42).  Jail records don't identify inmates with serious mental illnesses (p.52). 

What is most troubling is that inmates who should be set free because of acquittal or dismissal of charges are held in custody instead of releasing from court (p.51).  The Sheriff has no actual policy or procedure for the release of prisoners (p.52).  The booking staff checks NCIC upon booking the prisoner but does not check NCIC before releasing him- thus contributing to the catch and release problem.  There is also a problem with a severe shortage of booking clerks, thus making the paperwork problems even worse.  The report states that the Raymond Detention Center "does not keep a spreadsheet or log" (p.54).  There are also no incident reports created for the early or erroneous release of prisoners.  The Sheriff's staff didn't even complete the required self-assessment (p.62).

A hearing will be held in Judge Gargiulo's court tomorrow at 2:00 PM.  This report will probably be the topic of discussion at some point in the hearing.


Road map to report.
P.8: No policies & procedures manual completed. 
P.9: No admin meeting with medical staff in last 5 months.
P.10: Deputy admin & other senior supervisor slots remain unfilled
P.11: Jail designed for direct supervision but not enough employees to implement it.
P.12: RDC has insufficient staff.  HCSO has not provided a list of employees.  Pay must be increased. 10-year deputy gets paid same as rookie.
P.15: No outdoor recreation since 2012.  Hourly well-being checks are sporadic and not documented.  Deputies don't enter units nor check individual cells.
P.16: RDC Turnover rate is over 50% while it is over 20% for all three facilities.  All units at RDC are routinely left unattended.  POD B had no officer assigned but for control room.
P. 19: Backlog of required training for officers
P. 20: No way to confirm supervisors make daily rounds on each shift
P. 20: No way to determine when shakedowns occur since they aren't recorded.  Three holes were found in perimeter fence and two exterior walls in April.
P.21: Settlement mandated installation of cellphone jammers. Not done.
P. 21: No gang program. Sheriff Mason ended classification of prisoners based on gang affiliation.
P.22: Number of incident & use of force reports are very low considering the amount of damage found in the jail system.  .
P.30: 3 prisoners escaped in March but absence wasn't discovered by HCSO personnel.  No one got in trouble.
P.36: Booking cells used for long term housing of problem prisoners.
P.37: Prisoners locked in cells 22-23 hours per day.
P.39: Segregation units are usually left unattended for entire shifts.
P. 42: GED program was suspended in February.  Provider needed.
P.51: Jail records don't ID people with serious mental illnesses.  Inmates are not being released directly from court when charges dropped, acquitted, or found not guilty.
P. 52: Sheriff has not developed policies for release of prisoners.
P. 53: Staff runs NCIC at booking but not release.  Catch & release anyone?
P. 53: Shortage of booking clerks.
P. 54: HCSO didn't hire a Quality Control Officer as required.
P.62: County didn't complete its required first self-assessment.




27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe its time for HCSO to get out of the jail business, is there a way for Hinds County to contract with MDOC, and could they (MDOC) do any better?

Just asking those who might know.....

Anonymous said...

@10:20 MDOC can only provide care, custody and control of inmates that have been sentenced to their custody by the courts. Most detainees in the Hinds County Jail are pre-trial inmates. The problem with the Hinds County Jail(s) is that for the last three administrations you have had former Jackson Police Officers attempting to turn a Sheriffs Office into a Police Department. Its all they knew. Mac survived because he kept people from the McCadory administration that knew the law about jail administration. When RDC opened under McMillin there were competent people in place that allowed it to function in spite of the structural issues. Tyrone had no clue about jail administration and promptly fired the individuals who had the knowledge thus started the fast spiral of jail problems. Victor has no more knowledge about jail administration and believes that he has competent people in place (key word is believes). Its a shame and a joke. However in the end the tax payers of Hinds County will pay the price because they put Mason in office because McMillin told them to.

Anonymous said...

Raise your hand if you are surprised that Mason abolished the gang based program in the jail? He is doing old Frank proud!

Anonymous said...

"Mason abolished the gang based program in the jail"

For the 99% of readers here who have never worked inside the Hinds County penal system, can you explain what you're trying to say here?

Anonymous said...

Mason was no different than Tyrone, JPD implants, No jail experience and placing buddies in those positions and thinking they'll be the next McMillan or Macadory.

Masons way of dealing with the issues are walking away fast or just not being available.

The DOJ will be taken the jail away from Mason soon and along with his Sexual Predator Lawsuits being settled soon after..

. . . . .SPOONER FOR SHERIFF! . . . . .

Anonymous said...

Wasn't mason the one who ran on the saying "no excuses"

It will be interesting to see what he has to say about this.

Anonymous said...

To be someone so qualified to be trusted with our tax dollars Mason appears to have been or becoming worse of a screwup than Tywrong Lewis. My God man, can he not read, or did his education fail him as he read the spelled out instructions giving to him by the DOJ to be used to fix the jail as he was campaigning for the job. Lets assume he's too st-- st - stooo- stupid to understand how to read, I'm sure they have told him in a meeting what they expect of him. Looks like he's to stupid to even follow instructions. If i was one of his employees, I'd be concerned. This guy looks like he can't even pour piss out of a boot with the directions written on the heel. I'd hate to see what would happen to your life, or career if he is the shot caller.

Anonymous said...

@7:14
Sipping the same kool - aid the Tannehill fans now turned Mason boys did?

Anonymous said...

So we have a jail that has continued to deteriorate and not serve us well. We have a District Attorney who needs to be relieved of office. We have a new Mayor who has not spoken about his plans for JPD. Meanwhile we have obvious gang or drug dealers killing each other and a beheading and murder of a barber supposedly connected by funny money. In other words, everyday citizens who want to live in peace and free from crime do not have their public servants working for them except for JPD who cannot do it alone because of the Jail and court system. Wow. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Why is this not all over the news. Hinds county you have over 600 criminals that can commit whatever crime they want to and slide straight back into jail for a rock solid alibi...and apparently no one at the mason's SO would have a clue. Very disturbing...we elected you to fix this problem Victor and you have failed us. Maybe we need to cut your term short, fire you, and give you a little time for your crimes and trespasses.

Anonymous said...

I see some parallels between the operation of this facility and Hinds County and the City of Jackson - from an administrative/operational view. This particular work can be a very stressful environment when there are gaps. Add to that - Lack of proper training, apathy or incompetence at critical functional levels and very low pay for detention officers and it is no wonder they cannot retain employees. Do they even get health care insurance? Why stay at a job like that for around $12.00 an hour if you can find the same or better elsewhere. Then you are offered $1000.00 to bring in a cell phone and....

Anonymous said...

The staff is poorly trained, funding isn't worth a damn to pay people and maintain facilities. You definitely do not want to privatize the facility because we know how for-profit facilities end up costing way more money and put you in a worse predicament.

It's a giant cluster f*ck - Mason still needs to go because he has shown he is not up to the task of turning it around.

Anonymous said...

Mason is an idiot and obviously has to go, but didn't he hire an undersheriff a Major Luke to help him understand these type of problems??? Mr mason needs to do a better job in pretty much every area, but if he don't start getting rid of dead weight like his undersheriff he is going to sink more quickly than the primary coming up in 2019

Anonymous said...

The jail is 90 percent of the Sheriff's job responsibilities. It should also be 90 percent of his budget and all resources. It is way past time to put all of SO resources into the jail and begin fixing the disaster that is going on in Raymond. Training, paperwork and diligence better start today or it's going to crash and burn. Feds will probably have to step in to make it happen.

Anonymous said...

Victors finished,he's gonna lose the jail, lose applicants applying, because thre're not singing up to work the jail and Victor not sending the people as he should.

VICTORS FINISHED!

Anonymous said...

What happened when MacMillin left the sheriffs office? He had problems during his Admin also, but he had a better hold on the jail situation. I worked at both jails during his tenure.

The good thing about working there, it was my extra money job!!! In no way, shape, form or fashion, I could live off the money they paid the correctional deputies. All my co-workers were honest and hard working, we had a good working relationships.

My heart goes out to the GOOD deputies.

It's not hard to get policies from other Departments across the nation and fine tune them to your specific needs. Not having policies in place is no excuse.

The money issue, is the board of supervisors and management by the Sheriffs job!

The one thing I could say about MAC, he was a kick ass Sheriff. if you F**ked up. He didn't give a rats ass if you were black, white or neutral.

And to the people making comments calling the former Sheriffs bad names, ain't going to do shit.

INMATES DONT RUN SHIT IN THE MAJORITY OF THE 82 MISSISSIPPI COUNTIES, something to take a look at !!! The jail may have a hole in the wall and the inmates know the deal!!!

Anonymous said...

No matter how poor his performance...he will stay in this job until his term is up. There is no alternative to get rid of him. Surely you people, even Spooner, know this.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately short of him going to jail we may be stuck with the in competent, sexual harassing, lying scaredy cat, but giving his aptitude to screw up a good thing I wouldn't rule jail out for him. If there's a way to screw it up he'll find it.

Anonymous said...

Victor Mason is an incompetent buffoon masquerading as a law enforcement officer. He is a disgrace to the entire law enforcement profession and Hinds County. He's gotta go!

Anonymous said...

The jail has incredible design issues--exercise areas that guards can't see well except via closed circuit TV, and allow for relatively easy escape, doors that at least were easy to take off (don't know if that changed after jail recs from the grand jury), ceilings you could take apart, etc. It's like a detention center designed by engineers from "Idiocracy." The problems go on and on. I don't think applauding previous authorities in Hinds County, who were around at the time the jail was built, is at all wise.

Anonymous said...

Problems with the jail started before it was built. Bennie Thompson was a county supervisor
At the time and got a group from California to come in and subcontract to all of
Bennie's buddies. Design and construction was substandard. Problems from day one.
But that's Hinds County!

Anonymous said...

That jail was deficient the day it opened three decades ago due to the cronie deals that were cut. The problems predate the last three sherifs and all of the supervisors.

That said, its their problem to fix now that the Feds are involved.

Anonymous said...

We need to start thinking who our next candidates are?

Victor has got to go, obviously he won't be RE-ELECTED.

. . . .Spooner for Sheriff. . . .

This Is Us.. said...

As a society, and due in large measure to democrat acceptance of less than excellent, we have slid into an abyss of mediocrity in almost every aspect of public (and often private) life.

We no longer aspire to be the best. We no longer set goals of out-performing our prior accomplishments. We don't delve into qualifications of applicants and candidates. We look no deeper than skin-tone and what we think we personally have to gain. We stopped raising the bar years ago and it's finally coming home to roost.

Regarding law enforcement: At one time jails and prisons were superior. Food service, required work, cleanliness, safety and security of inmates and others and employees who performed well met our expectations. Now they're pig pens with lax security and crooked guards. Incompetent and incapable oversight. Third World.

Response time and the response you knew you'd get when you called to report something were exceptional and made us feel safe. That's history now. We no longer even assume a report is made following our call. And if one is made, we can't find or access the person who took the report or find out what became of our issue. It's not only expected, it's accepted. It's less than mediocre and it's normal.

We no longer elect competent people and the ones we elect no longer hire, train and promote other competent people. Mediocrity at best. Horrible at worst. It's who we are and what we deserve.

We have willingly slid into the abyss.

Anonymous said...

@8:43

Well said, And perfectly put.

Finding Waldo Spooner said...

Spooner retired when Ringling brothers folded tents and laid off all the clowns. He can be seen most days leaning back on a Coke case in front of the gas station in Mound Bayou.

Anonymous said...

Make your jokes now about SPOONER..he'll be your next Sheriff and he'll be damn good one.

You all will look back and say, yeap, he's honestly a damn good SHERIFF.

We're not looking at race anymore, just a good person who will get things done and mean what they say.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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