Hinds County’s turbulent youth center withdraws from federal oversight

Decades of court settlement over unconstitutional conditions at Hinds County Youth Center has ended, but district attorneys and officials said work would continue to ensure the well-being of detainees.

“Our concern for children held at Henley-Young continues and we look forward to the next phase of critical work to improve Hinds youth performance,” the Mississippi Disability Rights and Southern Poverty Law Center said in a joint statement on Monday. .

Mississippi Disability Rights said this month that all parties agreed to end the consent decree. U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Jordan approved the expiry of the decree on October 13.

Organizations sued the district for the conditions and treatment of children in the center, including refusal of mental health treatment and insufficient educational, rehabilitation and recreational programs. They regulated and concluded a consent decree in 2012, and the agreement has been amended three times and extended several times.

As a result of the consent decree, improvements were made to the facility, including increased access to psychiatric care, staff and education, officials and attorneys said.

Hinds County officials gathered in Henley-Young on Monday to celebrate the end of the consent decree.

“We’re not going to let go,” said Marshand Crisler, who has been the center’s executive director since January. “We will continue to implement policies and procedures to continue the development of this facility.”

He hopes the facility could become a model for other sites in the Jackson area and the state as a whole.

Crisler said since the consent decree expired, the county has increased the number of juvenile detainees held to 45 from the 32 detainment limit set in the consent decree. He said the center had adequate staff to meet this need and that the center could hold up to 80 detainees.

In its statement, Disability Rights of Mississippi expressed concern about the county’s intention to increase the number of youth in Henley-Young.

“We will not tolerate regression of conditions or services due to the increased population at the site or for any other reason,” said the organization.

Crisler said 35 young people at Henley-Young were indicted in the criminal court as adults. The others are under the jurisdiction of the County Youth Court.

Under the consent decree, the county began placing underage accused as adults at Henley-Young. County attorneys said the detainee’s cap had become difficult to work with when the center began placing them, according to court records.

Tony Gaylor, a lawyer for the Supervisory Board, said population growth was a problem at all of the county’s detention centers and was related to crime. The county hopes to maintain the Henley-Young population by working with the court system and the district attorney.

Hinds County Court Judge Carlyn Hicks, who oversees the Youth Court, said taxpayers could expect savings as the county would no longer have to pay attorney fees to administer the consent decree.

As the county no longer pays these fees, she hopes they will be reinvested in social and diversionary activities that alleviate the need for young people to come to detention.

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