News from the desk of Sheriff James Potter


"The Sheriff’s Role in the Detention Center"

In this third article in my series I want to discuss the Sheriff’s role in the Detention Center and the impact on our community and detainees. The old “County Jail” has transformed through the years as Sheriffs have recognized the need to meet the many variables and demands placed upon them in regard to care, custody and control of detainees.

Before going further, I must say how I greatly appreciate all of the Detention Deputies here at the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office as well as those who serve in the Detention and Corrections profession throughout our state and across our country. These individuals protect our facilities and are oftentimes the least publicized of all the deputies in our county and their respective communities. Yet, each and every day they stand within the four walls of our agency building, serving and protecting the citizens in our community.

Our Detention Deputies face extremely difficult tasks to ensure safety, custody and control of all detainees within the DeSoto County Jail. A continuous activity of organization involves the process of new arrests and ensuring proper professional handling of over 100 jail functions within the jail 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is literally a small city of itself with almost all of the attendant circumstances each of you deal with in your lives but contained within the jail.

As the Sheriff, I am responsible for providing leadership, guidance, direction and overall management of the county jail and the detention deputies. I must ensure discipline, safety and security within the jail and compliance with state law and other regulations while developing long and short term planning for programming and facilities, coordinating staff activities and preparing and monitoring the annual budget.

When we speak about “Care, Custody and Control” for detainees, it is important to note each category requires the Sheriff to adhere to those functions of the jail. Securely keeping persons who are lawfully placed in the Sheriff’s custody is of prime importance. It is a vital function to maintain control of a detainee where the detainee is assigned in the jail or during any other lawful movement or travel such as court attendance, medical appointments or transporting to another jail or state prison if applicable. The importance of care includes the most basic necessities of food, shelter and medical service for health and wellbeing.

Additional programs are provided, at no cost to the residents of DeSoto County, and supported fiscally through the reimbursement of billed medical services and service usage charges which are placed in the Inmate Welfare Fund. For example, a Paytel Tablet is available to all detainees for communication with family and friends and contains a robust library of books and courses for personal development. Courses provided with the Paytel Tablet are in excess of 900 and range from anger management to addiction recovery. Other programs and services include Homewav video visitation that is provided throughout the entire facility. This allows additional access to communication with family and friends and an in-house mental health provider allowing detainees immediate support during a crisis. In addition, various group programs will soon begin for anger management, drug addiction and other common needs of the detainees.

To help create a structured environment, the jail operates a Detainee Worker Program in accordance with state law providing detainees sentenced to local jail an opportunity to earn days off their sentence. This is accomplished by providing service in facility maintenance, cleaning, laundry and food preparation.

As you can see, the Detention Center (County Jail) is different than the past and is continuously changing in its composition, administration and techniques to meet current and future demands while keeping the public safe through care, custody and control of those who have broken the law.
Stay safe, Be Kind and God Bless,

Sheriff Potter