Outside Expert Will Examine Jail Booking Procedures

The warden at the Harrison County jail wants an outside expert to examine booking procedures at the jail.

Dr. Donald Cabana gave a report to the board of supervisors Monday morning. He was hired by Sheriff George Payne in mid August, to take over as warden of the county jail.

Cabana told supervisors he wants to "leave no stone unturned" in the ongoing efforts to make improvements at the jail.

The jail's booking area has come under much criticism the past 11 months. That's where inmate Jessie Lee Williams was beaten to death last February.

In recent months, four former jailers have pleaded guilty for their role in assaults against more than one hundred inmates at the county jail.

Booking procedures will be examined by the National Institute of Corrections. The warden says significant changes have already been made to eliminate possible problems in booking.

"We've tightened up on the use of force policies. And that's been reflected in a decrease in the number of serious incidents that has required use of force. And frankly, I'm very confident that the operation is much improved now over what it was just a few months ago," said warden Cabana.

A representative from the National Institute of Corrections will visit the jail January 22nd and will also meet with supervisors following that review.

It won't cost the county anything. The N-I-C is an arm of the Justice Department and it's role is to provide technical assistance and support to state and local jails.

Dr. Cabana says he's confident the jail is moving in the right direction with improvements already implemented, especially in the booking area.

"We've made a lot of changes there. We want to make sure we're on the right track. I certainly feel confident that we are. I have a pretty good sense of what it is we're trying to get to and how to get there. But it doesn't hurt to have someone else come in an look over your shoulder," the warden said.

The representative from the N-I-C will visit the jail on January 22nd. Following that review, the person will meet with the board of supervisors for an update on what was found, and what recommendations might be made.