Like many of you I took the chance to visit the new Copiah County Detention Center during its ‘soft opening’ last Friday. And, wow.
I’ve never been to jail – and don’t plan on having to go any time soon – so I can’t really compare that part of it to any other facility based on any personal experience. I’ve heard Sheriff Jones, his deputies and staff members talk about the need for a new one for years. The outside appearance of the existing detention center, which is around 35 years old, screams out-dated. They were telling the truth.
The new complex – which will house the Copiah County Justice Court, as well – is extremely 21st century. Everything is controlled by a person sitting in a highly secured room in front of a computer, keyboard and mouse. (Yes, a back-up generator will engage when the power is out.) All the offices are highly functional and technologically intertwined. Prisoners will even be eating food cooked in the facility’s own kitchen, a huge step up from transporting meals three times a day from Hazlehurst.
Prisoners, too, will have a hard time being foolish inside while doing hard time. The entire facility is monitored by secure video cameras. The new prison yard features two rows of flesh-tearing razor wire on top of a tall fence. All doors are locked and unlocked with the push of a button, so jailers will be more protected while serving food and beverages and such. Remote video conferencing between prisoners and visitors has replaced the old face-to-face with a glass window and two telephone headsets. Several maximum security lock-down rooms are reserved for the least-behaved inmates, as well.
Sheriff Jones and the Copiah County Board of Supervisors visited several other newer facilities in the state while in the planning stages of our new detention center. They took a few ideas here and there and even came up with some of their own solutions to problems that others were facing elsewhere. Those little investments in time, for example, made a big impression on a couple of officers from Hinds County who attended Friday’s event. Hinds County deputies have their own set of problems with an old detention facility, as you may already know, and are looking to Copiah County for solutions.
That’s real leadership. That’s forward thinking. That’s what we expect and what we receive from our county’s elected officials.