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July 30, 2022

Federal judge orders Mississippi jail into receivership

As reported in this AP article, a "federal judge has seized control of a Mississippi jail after citing 'severely deficient' conditions at the facility." Here is more about a notable ruling:

In a Friday ruling, U.S. Southern District of Mississippi Judge Carlton Reeves placed Hinds County’s Raymond Detention Center in Raymond into receivership. The judge will soon appoint an expert, known as a “receiver,” to temporarily manage the facility in hopes of improving its conditions.

“After ample time and opportunity, regretfully, it is clear that the county is incapable, or unwilling, to handle its affairs,” the judge wrote. “Additional intervention is required. It is time to appoint a receiver.” Reeves said that deficiencies in supervision and staffing lead to “a stunning array of assaults, as well as deaths.” Seven individuals died last year while detained at the jail, he said.

County officials said they’re still digesting the order and are determining whether they will appeal, WLBT-TV reported.

Federal and state judges have ordered receiv­er­ships or a similar trans­fer of control for pris­ons and jails only about eight times, according to Hernandez Stroud, an attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. “What this receivership order looks like is totally within the court’s discretion,” Stroud said. “What powers to give the receiver, how long the receivership should last — those are matters that Judge Reeves will figure out.”

Judge Reeves's 26-page opinion in this matter is available at this link, and here is a portion of its conclusion:

Nearly six years ago, the County entered into a Consent Decree, and later, a Stipulated Order, with the United States to ameliorate the unconstitutional conditions of confinement in its jail system.  Its efforts succeeded at the Work Center. That facility is no longer under federal supervision.  At RDC, however, the dire circumstances that drove this settlement persist.

The County refuses to take responsibility. Instead, it offers a litany of excuses.  But each of these excuses ultimately boils down to the same argument: conditions at RDC are out of the defendants’ hands.  The County wishes to abdicate responsibility for ensuring the health and safety of detainees in its custody.  The Court is compelled to grant that wish. We can’t wait for continued destruction of the facilities.  We can’t wait for the proliferation of more contraband.  We can’t wait for more assaults.  We can’t wait for another death.  The time to act is now.  There is no other choice, unfortunately.

Upon appointment of a receiver, RDC shall no longer languish in the County’s inadequate grip.  The Court will appoint a federal receiver to oversee operations at RDC, who shall begin work as soon as possible, but no later than November 1, 2022.

Though not directly relevant to this ruling, I still think it worth reminding everyone that Judge Reeves is Prez Biden's nominee to be the Chair of the US Sentencing Commission.

July 30, 2022 at 12:47 PM | Permalink


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