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Inmate numbers cause concerns
Jul 12, 2017 | 281 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
City and county officials are looking at options to deal with a growing and overflowing number of inmates needing to be housed in the county jail.

The Prentiss County Jail recently received reapproval to house state inmates after taking steps to reduce the overpopulation. A federal court order requires the jail to maintain a maximum inmate population of no more than 70.

Sheriff Randy Tolar was notified in May the jail could lose its certification to house inmates in the joint state/county work program if the overpopulation issue was not corrected. The recent reapproval reflects efforts to reduce the population and maintain it at the required level. Housing these inmates saves the county significant labor costs through the use of inmate labor to operate the jail kitchen, maintain the grounds at the jail, courthouse and other county buildings, provide labor at the agricenter and do numerous other jobs in the county.

The county jail houses inmates for Prentiss County as well as the City of Booneville and some for the City of Baldwyn.

Tolar said Tishomingo and Alcorn counties have agreed to house overflow inmates from the county as well as any other law enforcement agency within Prentiss County.

The Booneville Board of Aldermen approved an agreement at their most recent meeting to house city inmates in Tishomingo or Alcorn counties if jail space is not available locally. The board also approved a revised interlocal agreement between Booneville and Prentiss County to pay $6,000 per month and $25 per day per inmate housed by the county.

Board members also agreed to allow Mayor Chris Lindley to meet with a jail consultant during the upcoming Mississippi Municipal League Conference to discuss options for the city.

Tolar said the overcrowding issue comes down to a simple lack of space.

“The jail was constructed in 1996 and we have simply outgrown it,” he said. “We foresee having to utilize other facilities to house any county or city inmates sentenced to jail time for misdemeanor convictions.”

Tolar said he doesn’t like having to transfer inmates, but is required by law to follow the court order and keep the jail in compliance. The issue is one city and county leaders will have to deal with moving forward.

“Hopefully we can work with the county and city officials to resolve some of the issues and tensions that have resulted from the overcrowding,” he said.
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