RAYMOND, Miss. - The Hinds County Sheriff's Department opens Pod "C" after it's been shut for nearly two years. "I do feel better now about the safety and security of this facility as well as the inmates and the staffing versus what it was when this administration took over," says Hinds County Sheriff Tyrone Lewis.
It's two million dollars worth of renovations to help restore the safety and security of the Raymond Detention Center. Inmates took over Pod "C" in July 2012, destroying the area, including locks on cell doors. Sheriff Lewis revealed Monday a monitoring system for cell doors. A red line comes on when a cell door is unlocked, a way to keep correction workers safe. "We've increased our technology to include video visitation, a jail management system. We have cameras on the way that's going to help us improve our security and make our employees feel more comfortable," adds Sheriff Lewis.
Multiple disturbances at the Raymond Detention Center got the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice. It's launching an investigation into the safety of staff and inmates. With these renovations to Pod "C" Sheriff Tyrone Lewis says he hopes investigators take notice. "Hopefully they will see some improvements that have started before they initiated their visit and give us credit for that to also the recommendations we're expecting from them," says Sheriff Lewis.
Another step to secure the jail is making sure the facility is fully staffed, and Sheriff Lewis says that's a challenge. "It's a challenging situation to keep employees who are tasked with competing against the metro area facilities such as ours. That's why we have continuing hiring," says Lewis.
After a jail disturbance earlier this year, the Hinds County Board of Supervisors issued a state of emergency for the Raymond Detention Center. A court order issued by a grand jury is requiring the county to renovate and open pod a now that Pod "C" is open. "To have it fully operational, we're looking probably another month to eight weeks," says County Administrator Carmen Davis. She adds the total cost of renovations to the entire detention center will be over four million dollars.
The U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating Hinds County's Jackson Detention Center. Sheriff Lewis says the federal investigation hasn't started at this time.