Harrison County Faces Jailer Shortage - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Harrison County Faces Jailer Shortage

The Harrison County Detention Center is short about 65 to 70 jailers.

The new warden, Donald Cabanna, has already made personnel and policy changes. Next up is recruiting new officers to help ease the work load of current jailers.

"They've been working 12 hour shifts since the hurricane hit and at some point in time, one of the reasons we want to get our full complement of officers up, is so we can get away from those 12 hour shifts," Cabanna explained.

Restoring public confidence in the jail tops Cabanna's priority list. He's already made changes in the booking area.

"We've made some procedural changes that I think will give us greater safeguards to make sure we operate within appropriate parameters," he said.

"We've got officers down there that I think are very committed and dedicated to doing things the right way," he added.

Dr. Donald Cabanna provided expert testimony last year before the "Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons."

One part of his testimony says: "I think the single most important issue in addressing these concerns is administrative accountability. There simply must be an effective way to hold prison officials accountable for the actions of staff."

"One of the things that we're working on now is putting some procedures in place that allows us to effectively monitor incidents involving use of force by staff. So that we can track for instance inmates who seem to be involved in multiple incidents over a period of time, as well as staff," he said.

The new warden says he's confident the public will see a "noticeably different institution" by the end of the year.

"Number one is to get the message out to the public, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story is that 99 percent of the staff out here are dedicated, they're honest, they're hard working."

Donald Cabanna stopped short of calling the need for jailers critical, saying wardens are accustomed to dealing with staff shortages and personnel turnover. He says the jail will soon be actively recruiting to try and fill the vacancies.

By Steve Phillips

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