Following the county leaders’ approval to give employees at the local county jail a pay raise, more issues were brought to the table surrounding the inmate population.
The Yazoo County Board of Supervisors held a work session earlier this month to give a salary increase for employees at the Yazoo County Regional Correctional Facility. Moments after the pay raise was approved, Chancery Clerk Quint Carver told the county board they would have other problems at the local county jail with its female inmate population.
“I need you to address this because we are going to have a problem,” Carver said. “I don’t know what the policy is in regard to females over there. But long-term housing them is not a good idea.”
Sheriff Jake Sheriff said the county jail has seven female inmates currently housed within its facility. The county jail is also not designed to house female inmates.
Carver said housing female inmates poses a problem within his department when some individuals have to be held at the county jail after the county court orders a mental evaluation. In ideal situations, those individuals should be housed in isolated holding cells. But, with housing female inmates, Carver said that is not always possible.
“I already had one of my mental patients put in there in a holding facility, and he got jumped because he was moved out of isolation into the general population, which is against the law,” Carver said. “But they moved him because of the females.”
Problems associated with holding individuals awaiting mental evaluations is nothing new for the local county jail. Four years ago, a tense meeting with one of those individuals and the county board began when the individual placed a small wooden coffin on the boardroom table.
“That is what you are asking for,” Charles McCool said, pointing to the small casket, during the 2016 meeting. “That is what is going to happen. They may not do it in their cell...but when they get out of that (jail), they will.”
While in custody at the county jail because he was acting suicidal, McCool said he was treated like a convict and not given any consideration as a mentally ill person. A judge ruled that McCool was a danger to himself and ordered him committed to the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield. He was taken to the Yazoo County Jail to be transported to Whitfield.
McCool said, while in custody at the county jail, he was denied the opportunity to make phone calls and was ignored by many officials. He also said the employees at the county jail were not able to handle mentally ill patients.
Placing mentally ill patients into the general population due to housing female inmates is just another concern to add to the list of issues within the local facility.
Carver suggested that any female inmates who have to be housed at the county jail for longer than 72 hours should be relocated to a facility designed to hold female inmates.
“You got sued once because you got females over there,” Carver reminded the county board. “Less than a year ago…some employees were having contact with the female inmates. You need to find a place to put them.”
Last January, three local jail guards were accused of having sexual relations with two female inmates and charged with sexual battery. Sgt. James Alexander was charged with three counts of sexual battery. Officers Christopher Hayes and Ohaje Brown were both charged with one count of sexual battery.