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WAPT: Grand Jury Calls Sheriff Tyrone Lewis 'Incompetent' to Run Jail

After a hastily convened meeting of the Hinds County Board of Supervisors this evening, officials took no action on a grand jury report that reportedly states that Sheriff Tyrone Lewis is incompetent to run the county's detention center.

WAPT-TV obtained the report, which questions Lewis's ability to "keep pretrial detainees or state inmates in a safe manner or to keep the public safe from the inmates."

The report recommends that the jail, which Lewis's office oversees and the county maintains, should be removed from the sheriff's control, calling him "incapable and unfit for this duty of his office," according to WAPT.

Members of the grand jury reported seeing prisoners with cellphones, which are contraband, and said they felt unsafe on visits to the Raymond facility.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced June 2 that the agency would open a "pattern or practice investigation" of both the Raymond Detention Center and the Jackson Detention Center downtown. A DOJ press release stated the investigation would focus "on whether Hinds County protects prisoners from harm at the hands of other prisoners and staff" and "improper use of force."

Lewis has come under scrutiny because of a number of incidents at the jail in recent years, including at least two uprisings and several instances of prisoners being killed while in the custody of the sheriff's office.

The five-member Hinds County Board of Supervisors went into executive session for more than 30 minutes, but announced no action when the board reconvened the meeting.

Update 10/3: A previous version of this story misstated that Hinds County Judge Tomie Green impanelled the grand jury that delivered a Oct. 2 report critical of Sheriff Tyrone Lewis. District Attorney Robert Smith called the grand jury.

Comments

Duan 5 years, 11 months ago

I think its unfair to call an official incompetent - when they are operating on a bare-bones budget and making due with what they have.

Here's the problem with jails - there's a ton of wear and tear. You cannot make band-aid repairs to them.

As the population grows in the presiding area - so should the facility.

Look at Rikers Island in NYC and Cook County in Chicago - they are CONSTANTLY working on those facilities.

Hinds county cannot say the same. So even if Tyrone was removed - whoever runs the facility would have the same issues that Tyrone is currently facing.

There's no quick fix to this problem.

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sarahmina 5 years, 11 months ago

I agree that there are no quick fixes, however, I would expect a sheriff to be yelling at the top of his voice at the unjust and filthy conditions and unsafe conditions in this jail. There is just no excuse. If you have to expose the TRUTH, well so be it. I might have a little more respect for Mr. Lewis is I saw fire and passion behind this issue. He must have contact with his jail and his own employees daily = no fire until the inmates break loose.

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tsmith 5 years, 11 months ago

The jail had issues when it was brand new, going with the lowest bidder is not always the wisest choice. The board of supervisors has underfunded it for as long as I can remember, do they expect the sheriff to pull a rabbit out of his hat? I put the blame squarely on them.

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Turtleread 5 years, 11 months ago

When your political leaders mantra is, "We cut taxes" it is very hard after a number of years of doing this to find savings in a budget and/or operate efficiently or effectively. And who are they going to turn to in this state, the Republican Governor? The Republican Legislature? Every constitutional office in this state except Attorney General is occupied by a Republican. This is a party that cuts taxes while fighting trillion dollar wars. A party that takes money after Hurricane Katrina for individual housing in South Mississippi and asks for a waiver to spend it on state port facilities, leaving some families today still without assistance. If the problem is to be solved permanently, then the people and residents of Hinds County and the City of Jackson will have to have "buy-in" to a competent, viable, comprehensive plan that addresses present and future needs and the law enforcement, jailing, judicial, DA office, Defender's office infrastructure in the county. And that takes research and money, but most of all, the political will to do it. Before some Federal judge declares the Hinds County jail facilities unfit for human habitation, I would recommend that a state task force be assembled with members from all the stakeholder classes including voters and taxpayers. All avenues of reforming the law enforcement and judiciary in Hinds County should be considered, including the jail, and ways of funding the same should be explored. A report should be written for and sent to the Governor, the Executive Council, the Legislature, Hinds County Board of Supervisors, and Jackson-Hinds County Library System (for the public).

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