The mission of the Forrest County Juvenile Detention Center (FCJDC) is to develop and maintain a safe and secure environment in which to offer a program that is vigorous for the body, mind and spirit of every detained youth.
The motto at the FCJDC is “Each One Reach One,” and staff strives to deter youth from a season of incarceration to become productive community leaders.
The facility also believes that: “Nothing is Impossible!” Staff teaches the youth that they can be whatever they choose to be, only if detainees strive to be the best.
The FCJDC is a facility designed to provide safe and secure short-term care and custody for youthful detainees who cannot be placed in a less-restrictive setting and who have violated the law, violated court orders and stipulations of probation, and/or who are waiting for court-ordered placement.
With a bed capacity of 25, the FCJDC houses juveniles between 12-17 years of age. Additionally, keeping in compliance with a new federal mandate regarding the “Interest of Justice” for youth whose cases are heard through the Circuit Court, the facility now houses juveniles charged as adults (JCAs) and though they receive the same services given to juvenile detainees, the JCAs are housed separately from the regular population. The FCJDC also houses offenders for several out-of-county jurisdictions at a daily rate of $300/day, per juvenile, effective June 1, 2023. The facility is located in the same building as the Forrest County Youth Court and it is designed to house short-term sentencing for both male and female juveniles that have been accused of a misdemeanor or felony crime and in certain situations, status offenders awaiting a hearing, placement to another facility, or other prescribed recommendations of youth court officials.
The facility consists of several components, including: three living units (two for boys and one for girls, along with an observation room and several individual rooms), administrative office, intake area, property room, library, recreational yard, central control, staff lounge, visitation and minimized kitchen area and a portable classroom. The facility provides for the basic needs such as shelter, food, clothing, and medical care; averts the abridgment of juveniles’ legal rights during detainment at the facility; provides for physical, emotional, and religious (optional) growth, and educational and social needs of the juveniles during detainment; and houses juveniles in a safe and humane environment, maintaining the level of security necessary to prevent escape and assure that juveniles live free from fear or assault or intimidation by staff or other juveniles.
Each detainee's room is equipped with an intercom communications system that is linked from the housing unit to the Central Control board. There is a surveillance system located inside the facility’s Central Control Room and is capable of viewing numerous cameras throughout the Center.
The FCJDC encourages positive behavior within its facility through a Behavior Management Points System. This mechanism provides rewards and extended privileges to detainees who accumulate a sufficient number of points.
By using the Behavior Management notion or the modified version, the youth are able to connect their behaviors with both positive and negative consequences. The outcome of using this concept has increased staff interaction with detainees and decreased inappropriate behaviors resulting in room confinement. The youth learn the connection between their behavior and the consequences and can better deal with their inner struggles. All detainees receive points daily for their efforts.
With one classroom available, all detainees are offered the state-required three hundred and thirty (330) minutes of daily classroom instruction. The Hattiesburg Public School District (HPSD) oversees the educational services, which are taught by two certified teachers, including one general education teacher and one SPED certified. There is also a case manager and transitional liaison for students. All youth are required to attend school daily. Out-of-county students who are detained for an extended period of time will have their schoolwork sent. Additionally, students are now required, per Mississippi Department of Education (MDE), to attend school year-round, including over the summer. We follow the same school calendar schedule as the HPSD, in addition to six (6) weeks of Enrichment during the summer.
Managed by Southern Health Partners, the FCJDC employs a full-time nurse who handles all medical needs, including medication administration, scheduling of appointments, etc. The nurse works diligently with youth court officials to obtain medical information for detainees, who also have access to a nurse practitioner. After hours and emergency medical care is also available.
Pinebelt Mental Healthcare Resources provides the facility with three mental health professionals who conduct animal, group and individual therapy and counseling sessions several times throughout the week with the detainees, along with developing treatment plans and completing suicidal assessments on detainees.
Youth are offered at least one (1) hour of large muscle exercise daily. There is an outdoor basketball court where detainees can play, walk, jog or relax in the sun. Juveniles can also take part in indoor recreational activities (card-playing, puzzles, reading books, board games, etc.). If the weather is inclement, rec-time occurs indoors (units or classroom). Youth are highly encouraged to participate in all activities.
Throughout the week, there are at least two structured Bible Studies and all youth are highly encouraged to participate, though it is not mandatory. No disciplinary actions will be taken for those choosing not to take part. Youth are allowed to have religious materials inside their rooms and are at liberty to practice their personal religious beliefs. For visitation purposes, the FCJDC administration will make all efforts to contact a youth’s personal clergy, as requested by the detainee or his/her parent or guardian.
At the approval of youth court officials, youth are allowed to have contact visits from parents, legal guardians, grandparents, and their own child during daily visitation, Sunday – Saturday from 9:00 AM-12:00 PM; 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM or 6:30 – 7:30 PM. Special visitation privileges must be approved in advance by the FCJDC administration. Visitors must present an identification card (i.e., Driver’s License), must be appropriately dressed and must leave personal items in the front lockers. Visitation is at least thirty (30) minutes and for security measures, all visitors and detainees will be frisk searched before and after by officers. *There are no restrictions concerning visits from attorneys, counselors, social workers, law enforcement, etc
.**Note: Respective County youth court officials are at liberty to restrict visitation hours for their kids in custody at the FCJDC. Written or verbal notification to the FCJDC administration is needed.**Virtual Visitation is permitted with approval of the administration.**
At the approval of youth court officials, detainees are offered FREE 10-minute phone calls to parents or legal guardians, grandparents and detainee’s children three times a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Extra phone calls can be purchased through the Behavior Management System. Youth can contact their youth court counselors, probation officers, and attorneys at any time, but preferably during normal business hours.
Youth have the right to correspond with members of their family, legal counsel and other persons and organizations, subject to the limitations necessary to maintain order and security of the facility. Detainees are given free postage to mail letters, two (2) per week or as requested. Additional stamps can be purchased by the youth using his/her points for the Behavior Management System. Mail can be received by detainees; however, it will be inspected for contraband by staff and it is opened in the presence of the detainee.
The FCJDC is in the business of caring for children; therefore, regularly, the facility is in need of such items as those that would progress young peoples’ sense of self and/or provide them with items that would help them to grow as individuals and members of their community. Due to budget constrictions, staff depends upon the kind hearts and thoughts of others by means of donations.
Donated items can range from: arts and craft supplies, books, journals, sports entertainment and other recreational items, educational products and white socks, white t-shirts or white thermals, etc. Essentially, any donation that may help educate, encourage, and improve a juvenile's life is welcome.
For questions about the above opportunities, please contact the facility's programming coordinator at (601) 545-6183 or (601) 545-6135.
Overseen by the programming coordinator, the FCJDC has a Volunteer and Internship program that allows community residents, college students and organizations (over the age of 18 and after completion of successful background checks) to come spend time with the detainees while providing educational, recreational, religious, social, etc. programming.