Warden to upgrade camera system
by Paisley Boston
Feb 21, 2014 | 1043 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bolivar County Correctional Facility Warden Ora Starks has "hit the ground running" since she took her position.

In Tuesday's board of supervisors meeting, Starks presented an order to members to make a purchase of over $10,000.

Before she could proceed with her remaining requests, Supervisor Andrew Williams questioned her about the purpose of the request.

“I am trying to upgrade the camera system at the facility," she said.

Since Starks took the position, she has aided the facility in receiving two 100 percent ratings from the American Correctional Association and now she is updating a system that has been in place since the facility initially opened.

"Prior to me taking this position, I think that they were having problems with the camera system," said Starks.

"I really wanted to make sure that we get all cameras up and running for the safety purposes of staff and offenders and in regards to legalities," she added.

Starks' was previously employed with the Mississippi Department of Corrections as a compliance officer.

"When you are doing compliance, you look at everything at your facility –I knew what to look for. I had someone to go out and inspect what was working and what was not working," she continued.

"I was prompted to fix the camera system because we utilize the camera system for safety and with the cameras we can monitor what is going on in the different housing units and throughout the facility," said Starks.

Sheriff Kelvin Williams said he plans to work along with Starks and he has contacted the company that installed the cameras to get an estimate for repair.

"We are going to try our best to upgrade our system instead of actually replacing the it," said Williams.

Starks said there have been times when offenders have filed grievances and lawsuits in regards to various incidents but with only a few cameras working; it has been hard to determine whether or not the incident actually occurred.

"For example, if there is an altercation with several offenders and we are trying to pin point who did what, then we could look at the cameras and get a clear view of the offenders," she added.

She also said that a new or updated camera system could aid in the control of contraband trafficking.

"All staff and visitors are "shaken down" before entering the facility but the new system will allow us to monitor the activity of individuals going in and out of their cars. We will even be able to see if the offenders are on the recreational grounds passing objects that might be contraband," continued Starks.

"We may not be able to see what is going on at all times but if we have an updated camera system, we can definitely roll back the cameras and zoom in on certain things," she added.

Starks said it may be expensive to repair or replace the system but it is very important to ensure that all of the cameras are working.

"I am looking at trying to repair what we already have in order to save money. Right now, only some of the cameras are working and this is not good," she added.

The camera system repair cost will come from one of the facility's budget line items.

Starks said she is also working to increase the number of vocational classes offered at the facility.

"I have been consulting with the Coahoma Community College Workforce to try get some programs and classes for our inmates," she added.

Starks said representatives from Coahoma Community College are set to visit the facility and to view classrooms and determine the number and type of classes that can be offered.