A McComb woman whose son is a Pike County inmate expressed several concerns about the jail to county supervisors Monday.
Theresa Rogers said the jail canteen and phone service are too expensive, and expressed concern that nonviolent inmates are housed with violent ones.
She said the jail was on lockdown a week and a half ago and she couldn’t get through to her son for two days, nor could she talk to a jail or sheriff’s official.
“My concern was that they’re all put together and they don’t get along,” Rogers said.
She also was unhappy that a deputy referred to inmates as “career criminals” and said the jail should offer some sort of educational program. She also complained it takes too long for a sick inmate to see a nurse.
Also, “some of them say the food is not worth eating. It’s cold,” Rogers said. As a result, inmates buy snacks in the canteen.
She said to keep in touch with an inmate, she must download an app and use her debit card to call, text or video-conference, which costs a lot.
Sheriff James Brumfield said COVID-19 has caused some of the problems.
“COVID has dealt us a hard situation,” he said, noting there is no visitation as a result.
As for the lockdown she referred to, he said a corrections officer was fired and charged with smuggling contraband into the jail. Other lockdowns result because “they’ll just get rowdy from time to time,” Brumfield said of inmates.
“A lot of people think we’re not putting people in jail, but we are,” he said, citing a recent average of 136 inmates, with 11 to 14 usually in coronavirus quarantine.
The jail has 14 quarantine cells, and new inmates are kept there for 11 days before being allowed into the general population.
As for violent and nonviolent inmates, “we try to keep those separated,” Brumfield said, noting the jail has four cell blocks. “We are very cognizant about who is put together.
“I can promise you we’re doing the best we can.”
The jail also houses juveniles who are charged with felonies, and they must be kept separate from the adult population.
Brumfield said the jail contracts with a business to cook for inmates. The canteen is available for food and toiletries, but supplies are limited to keep inmates from hoarding and selling them.
He said there’s one nurse for all inmates, who must wait their turn for attention.
“It’s just kind of like waiting in a doctor’s office,” Brumfield said.
As for phone calling, Brumfield said the smartphone app is a special feature, and the jail still offers regular phone calls for less.
“This is an opportunity we give them,” he said. “There’s a regular phone they can use. It’s still a cost on those phones.”
Supervisors asked Rogers to meet with Brumfield to try to iron out her differences, and she agreed, saying she will return at the Sept. 8 meeting to report to supervisors on the outcome.