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Sheriff: Jail is crumbling around the inmates and guards

March 26, 2022 GMT

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi sheriff says that he and his staff are doing everything they can to keep their jail from falling apart.

Falling ceiling tiles, broken security cameras, busted pipes, and other signs of decay are all visible from inside the Adams County Jail, WLBT-TV reported.

Some repairs have been made, but what is really needed is major reconstruction, Sheriff Travis Patten said. The jail was built in the mid-1970s, and was not built correctly, in his opinion, he said.

Common issues include bricks falling off the outside of the building, water and sewage leaks because of inmates clogging toilets, ripped down security cameras, broken cell locks, and mold growing in all corners of the jail.

“Modern jails have cut offs in their toilets, we don’t have that here,” he said. “So if one toilet gets stopped up, it could flood the whole system out and cause water to come from the third story all the way down to the basement.”

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Whenever damage occurs, Patten says the county board of supervisors gives money to the department to fix it — but he says it’s only a patch on the larger problem.

Something needs to be done to keep both staff and inmates safe, the sheriff said.

“We have so many blind spots and things that can occur,” Patten said. “But the real issue operationally is the fact that if a fire was to break out, we would have to go to all the cells individually and unlock them with a key.”

Ultimately, Patten said he hopes to get more money from either the state or the county to fix the issues.

“The first responsibility is with the board of supervisors,” State Rep. Robert Johnson said, adding that he hopes they would “handle the situation so criminals are off the streets and less money would be spent on maintenance in the long run.”