Allegations of abuse at Hattiesburg juvenile facility: Part 4 - - Jackson, MS

Allegations of abuse at Hattiesburg juvenile facility: Part 4

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By Katina Rankin - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - WLBT's parent company, Raycom Media, was joined by 30 other national and local news organizations in requesting the state supreme court to join in as a friend of the court in a petition for emergency relief. 

The suit stems from our sister station WDAM and Raycom being barred by a lower court from showing hidden videos of abuse at the Forrest County Juvenile Detention Center.

An ex-jailer at the Forrest County Juvenile Detention center in Hattiesburg alleges she saw several illegal things take place at the facility. To protect her identity, she will be referred to as Z. 

"I saw children being hog tied and I saw children there water being turned off and turning the air conditioner down low so they can freeze them out and make them be quiet. I told my immediate supervisor what was going on and I didn't like it." 

Z also claims there are security cameras in just about every detention center cell at the facility. 

 "If the kids coming telling me ‘bout how an officer had done them, I wouldn't take their word. I'd go look at the camera and when I looked at it and seen it there I started recording it." 

‘Just to be clear, you went to your immediate supervisor, the supervisor before him, you went to the sheriff who was providing the jailers down there, telling them about this abuse and you confronted the jailers themselves about the abuse?' Z said, "I sure did." 

‘Are you a whistle blower?' "Yes I am. These are kids and they somebody kids. How would you like somebody to do your kids like that. I went and found me a lawyer and I released it to my lawyer." 

Winston Thompson, III works with the Cochran Law Firm in Jackson. And he's representing some of the ex-detainees. 

"These are troubled teens. That's the reason they are sent to the youth detention center. And they're sent there so they can get some help not to be further abused." 

And Thompson says he will most likely file a lawsuit in federal district court within the next two weeks. 

"We will be seeking an unspecified amount of damages." 

Chris Selman, the corrections officer at the facility, contacted WLBT News Thursday afternoon. He said, "Because of pending litigation, we are not allowed to talk about this case."

Selman referred us to attorney Jim Dukes, who he said was out of the office.  

The Mississippi Supreme Court has given the Forrest County Youth Court until January 25th to respond to Hattiesburg television station WDAM's contention it should be allowed to broadcast video of the alleged abuse.

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