Jail riot creates prisoner housing issue - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Jail riot creates prisoner housing issue

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

County officials continue their investigation into a riot that destroyed a housing unit at the Hinds County jail Monday.

The county is now dealing with a housing shortage for inmates as they look for ways to make repairs. Some Hinds County inmates are now being housed in Rankin and Madison counties as a result of this destructive riot.

County officials stand by their decision not to raid the facility earlier, to avoid injury to officers or prisoners.

Sheriff Tyrone Lewis says, "Let's keep in mind when dealing with a SWAT team, we could have taken Pod C over at any given time."

Sheriff Lewis says law enforcement had rioting inmates isolated to Pod C Monday, which allowed him more time to evaluate the situation, and avoid a violent confrontation.

"We wanted to do a fair assessment to include if they had any weapons that could be used against us and they did. We wanted to make sure we knew where everybody was."

As a result, Pod C was destroyed but no one injured.

Sheriff Lewis says jail overcrowding by pre-trial detainees, with a sluggish court system, has turned the detention center into a prison, which it wasn't built for. For example, the alleged riot instigator, Kendall Johnson, was held for 11 months on a felony marijuana charge with just a $5,000.00 bond, a bond he should have been released on.

"Our records show he has not gone before a judge, that has posed a problem that is part of the problem, that makes the system crowded," said Sheriff Lewis.

Currently, Hinds County is operating under an emergency order to relieve their jail overcrowding.

All circuit and county judges have been told to review their criminal docket to determine which inmates are eligible for bond or early release.

All non-violent misdemeanor arrests are being considered for field release, or house arrest with monitoring.

The sheriff's department is also transferring all convicted MDOC prisoners into state custody.

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