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Sheriff Lewis looks ahead to jail changes

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Sheriff Lewis says he's been working to get the jail fully staffed. Now he's going to take a more aggressive approach. Sheriff Lewis says he's been working to get the jail fully staffed. Now he's going to take a more aggressive approach.
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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Major changes are in the future for the Hinds County Detention Center in Raymond. Some of the problems the newly released grand jury jail assessment report found at the jail include under staffing and lack of training for officers.

Sheriff Lewis says he's been working to get the jail fully staffed. Now he's going to take a more aggressive approach.

"The problem is trying to get quality people versus quantity people," Lewis said Wednesday.

Sheriff Lewis say he only has four deputy vacancies at the jail but turnover is high and often.

"The problem is individuals being qualified and individuals being cut out for this type of work and this type of atmosphere and being able to cut it once they're on board, then being able to actually pass a screen background check," Lewis said.

Lewis says recommended repairs to the facility, including replacing cell doors, will help him retain jailers. Last summer he had one inmate demonstrate just how easy it was for them to free themselves.

"It will help us to stabilize employees because they're going to have that sense of security to feel safe enough to do their jobs without looking over their shoulders, knowing an inmate can possibly compromise and get out of their cell," he said.

There's still a question of how much the recommended changes will cost. The sheriff's budget was cut by $1.6 million for the coming year, funding he says he wants back.

"We're not only going to need that money back, we're going to need additional money to properly staff," Lewis said.

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