No jailer on duty when inmate committed suicide in Moss Point

Published 4:12 pm Wednesday, August 2, 2006

The Jackson County district attorney is calling for increased staffing at the Moss Point city jail following a weekend suicide.

No jailer was on duty when inmate Billy Ray Evans hanged himself with his boot strings Sunday, according to Moss Point officials. The current jailer has been out on disability leave.

District Attorney Tony Lawrence wants immediate action to ensure enough personnel are on hand at the jail to prevent a future death. Police department officials said two inmates have committed suicide at the jail since March.

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Autopsies indicated death by hanging in both cases, officials said.

“I am deeply concerned about the continuous problems that appear to be coming out of the Moss Point city jail,” Lawrence said.

“If it’s a funding problem or an administrative problem, the individual who makes any one of those decisions needs to consider the problem and address it.”

Moss Point Mayor Xavier Bishop said he has instructed Police Chief Demetrius Drakeford to keep personnel at the jail at all times. Drakeford said he planned to ask the Moss Point Board of Aldermen to reinstate two jailer positions that were taken away by budget cuts.

The current jailer intends to return to his job following his recovery, officials said.

The FBI and the state Bureau of Investigation continue to look into Evans’ death. He was arrested on a domestic violence charge. Members of his family said Tuesday they do not believe he would commit suicide.

Jesse Earl Hubbard, 50, died March 4 after authorities said he used a T-shirt to hang himself. Hubbard had been arrested for disorderly conduct and public intoxication.

The Hubbard family has filed a civil lawsuit against the police department and the officers involved in his case. An independent pathologist performed a second autopsy that suggested Hubbard’s injuries were the result of a chokehold and not strangulation, the family said.

Bishop said the city would do what it takes to assure investigators and family members that inmates will be watched more closely.

“If there are extraordinary measures that we have to take then we have to take them,” Bishop said. “There are no intentions to close down the city jail. … I wanted to take immediate steps now to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”