Warden Placed On Leave Amid Jail Abuse Allegations - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/27/05

Warden Placed On Leave Amid Jail Abuse Allegations

The warden at the Hancock County Jail is off the job. Wednesday, Sheriff Steve Garber placed Warden Naomi Noble Childress on administrative leave until an investigation into her performance and management of the jail is complete.

A federal lawsuit filed in May by a former inmate outlined alleged physical and sexual abuse by officers inside the Hancock County Jail. Then a former corrections officer came forward with similar accusations.

The sheriff pledged to get to the bottom of the allegations

"We have a good facility here. We're going to maintain order in our jail," Sheriff Garber said.

He said he was blind sided by accusations that some of his jailers abused inmates.

"We're here to perform a service to the taxpayers, we're not here to beat anyone up."

Among the allegations in the federal lawsuit, jailers traded female inmates cigarettes and drugs for sex. And two inmates became pregnant while behind bars.

"In reviewing accusation of physical abuse in the jail, it became apparent that there were some deficiencies in the overall management of our jail on the part of our warden. Based on our initial investigation, I felt it necessary to place the warden on leave pending a full investigation into the performance of her job."

Garber says placing the warden on leave is not an admission that anyone did anything wrong.

He says he is concerned that a former corrections officer has now made abuse allegations.

"It wasn't important to this girl until she was terminated to come make these accusations. If they're here, I want my employees, my inmates, somebody, to make me aware of it, cause were not going to hide the problems. We're going to address them. When you have accusations like this, to me, it's embarrassing. W really have a good jail. I know the public's concept... right now, I know maybe they don't see that. But I have a good staff in the jail. They're really taking a blow right now."

For now, Garber says a disciplinary board will review the wardens performance, and he'll keep investigating the allegations of abuse.

Sheriff Garber has called on the FBI to help look into the abuse allegations at the jail. And he asked former warden Gerald Neciase to come out of retirement to serve as acting warden.

We called Naomi Nobles Childress to get her response to the accusations and being placed on leave. She told us, she had no comment.

by Al Showers

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