Florey Responds to Juvenile Center Lawsuit

A member of the Lauderdale County board of supervisors spoke out Monday about a lawsuit filed over the Lauderdale County Juvenile Center.

The Southern Poverty Law Center's Mississippi Youth Project filed the suit last week, claiming deplorable conditions exist there and that minors are routinely abused.

County supervisors say they are working to fix the problems.

"We have a punch list from the state, prior to the lawsuit, that we're working on," said board president Hank Florey.

Florey said it's a 17-point check list that was presented to the board last month by the the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

"Mainly it has to do with management of the facility and not the physical plant," Florey said.

The District 1 supervisor says management issues, including the hiring and firing at the facility, are beyond supervisors' control. He says his board strictly handles funding for the center, and because of this, it previously allotted money to address the facility's physical needs.

Supervisors say part of the problem at the juvenile center has been destruction of property by the juveniles themselves. He said some have even kicked out sheet rock ceilings, removed light fixtures and torn up recreational equipment.

"We had to put new lighting in the cells. That was asked for. We have done that," said Florey. "They want cameras. We have cameras ordered. There are a lot of things that the state and federal government ask for now that we haven't been doing down through the years, but we're trying to do now. "

Florey estimates that accomplishing the items on the list will cost the county about $50,000. He says this is money that has already been allotted into the juvenile center's budget.

With the county expected to meet all requirements on the list by the end of this year, Florey says he's hopeful that the lawsuit will be dropped soon after that.

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