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Appeals court halts federal oversight of Hinds County jail

Days before a federal receiver was set to take control of the Hinds County Detention Facility, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay halting that work. 

On Dec. 28, a three-member panel of the 5th Circuit Court granted a stay for the order appointing a receiver and the new injunction, which stays a court order put in place by U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves in April to set standards for Hinds County to fix the jail in Raymond. 

In November, Reeves appointed former Baltimore jail warden and criminal justice adjunct professor Wendell France Sr. as jail receiver. France started work then and was set to take full operational control of the jail Jan. 1, but did not due to the 5th Circuit Court order. 

A three-person monitoring team that has been documenting conditions and progress at the jail was also ordered to stop work, according to a Dec. 29 order by Reeves. The monitoring team issued its last report Dec. 12, highlighting ongoing issues such as the lack of direct supervision of jail housing units and facility maintenance. 

The 5th Circuit Court’s decision comes less than a year after attorneys from the county and U.S. Department of Justice were in Reeves’ courtroom to argue for and against federal receivership. 

Hinds County Board of Supervisors President Credell Calhoun said Tuesday he is pleased with the stay. The current board has spent millions to try to bring the jail into compliance, he said, and the county is building a new jail in Jackson that addresses issues with the current jail. 

“Everything went back to before the (receivership) order,” he said. “I was disappointed they didn’t wait and continue to let us do what we were doing. We’re doing everything we know and can afford.”

The county has maintained opposition to federal control of the jail through court documents and during the three weeks of hearings before Reeves.

The injunction and receiver orders will be paused while the district court addresses motions for reconsideration and a motion for clarification filed by the government over Section K, a section not included in the new injunction order that said juveniles charged as adults in Hinds County must be held at the Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center rather than the jail for adults. 

Questions about where to hold juveniles charged as adults came into question after a separate consent decree overseeing the Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center was terminated Oct. 13. 

Jan. 31 is the deadline for the district court to finish additional proceedings and modifications to the injunction for the jail relating to how juvenile offenders charged as adults are housed. 

Calhoun said a full appeal could take time, and within 18 to 24 months, the county expects to finish the first phase of 200 jail beds and amenities. Future phases would bring the jail to 750 beds, he said.

The post Appeals court halts federal oversight of Hinds County jail appeared first on Mississippi Today.

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