The continued problems at the Hinds County Detention Center in Raymond -- severe disrepair, inmate escapes, and a riot back in July that destroyed an entire pod -- have prompted sheriff's office officials to weigh their options. Now they're considering privatizing the jail system.
"We're shopping around for a whole idea," Sheriff's Office Attorney Dana Sims told county supervisors Monday.
At the Monday board meeting, Sims and Chief Deputy Chris Picou asked the board for the green light to advertise a request for proposals. They want to see if privatization would be cost effective and what those private companies have to say about building a new jail versus repairing the old one.
One goal is to phase out the second detention center facility that's housed on the top floors of the sheriff's department building.
"It houses our females, also houses some of the overflow from the Raymond Detention Center. We will look at RFP's trying to consolidate everybody under one roof," Picou said.
If privatization is chosen, Sheriff Tyrone Lewis would still retain control of the jail. We're also told no jail employees would lose their jobs. The company would re-train current employees and possibly offer them a better benefits package.
No one is sure what cost figures will come in on those proposals.
"We would have to get a company to come in, give us some hard numbers, what it would cost. Right now we're in the process of getting Pod C back up, then we will move from there," Picou said.
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