Judges Question New Jail

Youth Court Judge Michael Ward has always said the juvenile center should have been built in Gulfport because his courtroom is located next to the existing center. Ward and Judge Robin Midcalf say having court in two places could create a logistical nightmare. So Ward and Midcalf worked out a solution, but not before the discussion with the supervisors got a little heated. "We're here now, we're stuck with this decision so we're gonna have to make the best of it right?" Ward asked.

Ward is concerned that once the new detention center moves to Biloxi, court cases will be heard in the county courthouse there and not at all in Gulfport where his courtroom is now located. There is no holding area in the Biloxi courthouse for juveniles and by law they can't be housed with adults. Ward and another judge who hears juvenile cases are worried about security too. Judge Robin Midcalf says "I'm not so sure we thought this through in terms of having the proper security in getting the kids, the deliquents, from the holding facility to the courthouse and from courthouse to courtroom."

Ward says if court is held in both Biloxi and Gulfport, extra people will be needed to staff both offices, and that he says will cost taxpayers. But Supervisor Bobby Eleuterius says the real issue is that Ward didn't get the new detention center in Gulfport like he wanted. "This is a meeting because he didn't get what he wanted. It's continuin' on like this and it's gonna continue and he's gonna try to defeat it until the end."

After the debate was over, Ward suggested holding youth court in Gulfport only, and transporting the juveniles from Biloxi. "It would be significantly, significantly easier to try everything in Gulfport than it would be to split these dockets into Gulfport and Biloxi. You got incredible numbers of problems," Ward says.

The supervisors say they have no problem transporting the juveniles from Biloxi to Gulfport; in fact they say they wanted that to be the original plan. Now, it will be up to the sheriff's department to work out the travel logistics.


In the meantime, the judges and their staff will tour the juvenile detention center that's expected to open no later than August first.