Martin stressed that the agreement between the state and Wackenhut for the state to take interim operational control of the Jena prison is "all verbal" and that Wackenhut�s contract is still valid.
"There�s been no revocation of the contract at all," she said. "It is a verbal agreement. The contract still holds."
Houston said he "invited" the state to assume interim operational control of the Jena center "because there were some investigations that needed to be conducted."
Utter said reports by U.S. Justice Department consultants are "the reason they took over." The reports alleged extreme violence at the Jena center.
Houston said the state�s temporary takeover does not have an "ending date" or "exit date." He said Wackenhut will regain operational control "whenever they (the state) conclude what they�re doing now."
White said the Jena prison is under the control of Warden Mike Roberts.
"Ninety-five percent of the employees at the facility are Wackenhut employees," Houston said. "They report to the warden." Martin said more than 100 Wackenhut employees work at the prison.
"To what extent is the Department of Corrections operating the facility?" Doherty asked.
"We�re calling the shots," White replied.
"The operational decisions are currently being made by the state," Houston said.
"Yes, we�re in operational control, but Wackenhut is there with us," said state corrections attorney Martha Morgan.
Utter asked Houston who is liable if one of the juveniles at the Jena center breaks an arm.
"It is a question we�ve had, and we�ve discussed it with the state," Houston said. "I can�t tell you where that is now."
Houston also said any Wackenhut employee under investigation for alleged abuse at the Jena prison won�t have any contact with the inmates until the probe is completed.
"That�s our policy," he said.
Martin said the state pays Wackenhut $70 per day per bed at the Jena center, whether the bed is filled or not.
"Wackenhut is being paid for 276 beds," she said, acknowledging that, before the state took control of the center, negotiations began between the state and Wackenhut over the pay issue.