Meeks: Nobody fired

Published 11:32 pm Thursday, January 15, 2009

Two correctional officers at the Covington County Jail, reported to have been fired last week as the result of the loss of the federal inmate housing contract, have not had their employment terminated, Sheriff Dennis Meeks said Thursday.

A story in the Saturday edition of The Star-News quoted Meeks as saying two jailers had been terminated — not because of the New Year’s Day escape of a federal inmate but because of the loss of federal inmate housing contract.

“I did not say anyone has been fired,” Meeks said. “I said that with the loss of the contract we will have to let two go in the future. With the loss of the contract, there’s no money to cover their salaries.”

While Meeks did not comment on when he planned to “let them go,” Meeks did say that two other jailers were reprimanded for the actions on the day of the escape.

“Two correctional officers have been suspended without pay for their actions that day,” he said. “They weren’t doing their job and needed to pay the consequences.”

Last week, Meeks cited jail staff negligence behind T.C. Harris’ escape through a fence surrounding the outdoor exercise yard.

There was no guard posted at the exercise yard, and staff members were required to utilize cameras to watch inmates’ activities outside. Meeks admitted there were cameras posted on the yard, but jailers were not watching inmates’ activities while outside.

“That was negligence on our part. I’ll be that frank and honest on it,” Meeks said previously.

Meeks declined to comment on how long the jailers would be suspended.