Harrison County

Grand jury has recommendations for youth and adult detention

Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson
Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson

The Harrison County Board of Supervisors should develop and implement a plan to increase the salaries of sheriff’s deputies so the department can become competitive with other law enforcement agencies, a county grand jury said.

The recommendation was one of several in the final report from the latest grand jury session in the county’s 1st Judicial District in Gulfport.

Increasing pay within the department was a major talking point for Sheriff Troy Peterson during his election bid last fall. He also said it remained a top concern for him in an interview shortly after taking office.

The grand jury also recommended that Harrison County Youth Court move to Biloxi and a new Harrison County Juvenile Detention Center be built in a five- to 10-year time frame. The previous grand jury for Harrison County’s 2nd Judicial District in Biloxi also recommended a larger building for the facility and said it and Youth Court should be in the same area. The center is among 17 in the state that houses young people accused of criminal activity or in need of supervision.

The present facility is run by Mississippi Security Police and has an occupancy of 27.

Harrison County Youth Court officials have been advocating putting Youth Court and youth detention on the same property to cut down on costs and provide more resources to the young people housed there. Youth Court is in Gulfport and youth detention is in Biloxi.

The grand jury, though, said that both Youth Court and the Harrison County Children’s Shelter are well-run.

The county jail needs improvements to safety and environmental conditions, including ventilation systems, automatic fire system and glass replacement, the grand jury said.

The grand jury met for 21 days and considered 558 cases. It returned 386 true bills, 131 no true bills and one partial report. It returned 19 cases to law enforcement and passed 14 cases to the next session.

Regina Zilbermints: 228-896-2340, @RZilbermints