Hinds County District 3 Supervisor Peggy Hobson Calhoun wants weekly updates on the Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center.
Photo by File Photo
A Hinds County supervisor wants know what's being done to fix problems at the Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center.
District 3 Supervisor Peggy Hobson-Calhoun directed county administrator Carmen Davis to provide a list of corrective actions taken at the beleaguered youth jail.
A complaint from the Southern Poverty Law Center and Disability Rights Mississippi alleged that the center's staff subjected the children to physical and verbal abuse. It resulted in a March 2012 settlement between the county and plaintiffs.
Under the agreement, children entering the facility were to receive mental-health evaluations, counseling, better rehabilitation options, input from family and advocates, and more time outside their cells.
As of August, however, the county has not addressed many basic issues in the settlement, according to a report from court-appointed monitor and juvenile-justice expert Leonard B. Dixon.
Dixon points to inadequate staffing that keeps the jail in "perpetual lock-down mode" and high leadership turnover at the facility as one explanation for the county's difficulty in maintaining a safe and secure environment. That the jail has had three directors in as many years, Dixon said, "creates instability, chaos and a lack of direction."
The building--located on East McDowell Road in Jackson--is also in poor condition and is in need of extensive maintenance, Dixon wrote.
The Hinds County website displays a job announcement for entry-level juvenile-detention officers. The job description lists tasks varying from subduing violent prisoners and performing life-saving measures to serving snacks, washing walls and cleaning toilets. The job pays $1,643.63 per month, less than $20,000 annually.
District 4 Supervisor Kenneth Stokes said he's heard stories of cooks and groundskeepers sometimes filling in to keep an eye on youth inmates. Stokes renewed his oft-repeated call to ask the city of Jackson, whose residents represent the majority of inmates housed in county facilities, to pitch in and help pay for the needed changes.