New Eyes For Correctional Officers - - The News for South Mississippi

New Eyes For Correctional Officers

The new cameras are unique in that they will allow deputies not only to keep a closer watch over prisoners, but also lets them watch from places away from the jail. The 40 cameras going in at the jail will replace what Sheriff George Payne calls a very poor surveillance system.

Deputies can't keep an eye on inmates every second. So new cameras in several areas of the jail will watch for them.

"We still have the human element involved. We still have to personally go check on these individuals but at the same time this is going to allow perhaps two or three other people to assist that officer to see what's going' on when it happens," Major Rick Gaston, the jail's security chief, said.

Officers don't have to be in the jail to see what's going on. They can watch from other locations.

"Like at my house or staff's house and we get up at 2 o'clock in the morning, we'll be able to run up on our computer the picture on any camera in this jail to tell exactly what's going on, and we want the employees and inmates to know that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week we will be able to monitor their activities," Sheriff Payne said.

The color digital system will replace the old, closed circuit black and white cameras that were installed years ago. They're going in the hallways, the control towers and outside the jail. Six will watch over inmates who are on suicide watch.

"They will be placed in that cell. They will be recorded 24 hours a day using the digital cameras that we've installed. What it does, it helps when an officer is not present. The cameras will serve as a backup so if there is a problem, it's noted and they will notify the appropriate personnel who will respond immediately."

The system costs $1.2 million. The money is part of the $3 million bonds the county supervisors okayed for jail improvements.

The entire surveillance system should be up and running within two months.

By Marcia Hill

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