Jail overcrowding an issue, supes told
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 12:00 AM
An increase in the average inmate census at the county jail has sparked concerns about rising operational expenditures and a need for additional bed space, the Board of Supervisors was told on Monday.
While the average inmate census has climbed steadily over the past four months, the jail administrator expects it to rise even higher as city police crack down on people driving with suspended licenses.
The increase in inmates not only affects the jail's budget but the facility as well, Jail Administrator Jimmy Reid told supervisors.
Inmate meals alone for the month of December tallied $17,000.
The average daily inmate count at the jail has reached 71, Reid said, noting that 5,419 meals were served at the jail during the month of February.
Reid told supervisors that the city began implementing a new policy on March 1 whereby those caught driving with suspended licenses are placed in jail until bond is posted. More than 10 were jailed over the past weekend for the violation which carries a $600 bond.
During February, the Sheriff's office had 1,030 inmate days at the jail, the city had 731 days, the state Department of Corrections had 91 days and the Eighth District Drug Court, 12 days.
The daily average for February included 58 adult males and 12 adult females. Juveniles are not housed at the county jail.
The county contracts with Neshoba County General Hospital to provide three meals a day for inmates. Breakfast usually consists of a serving of eggs; bacon, sausage or ham; grits; a biscuit and fruit juice or milk at a cost of $2.25 per inmate. The noon meal consists of a sandwich with chips or fruit and a beverage for $2. The night meal consists of meat or a serving of meat casserole, a starch, a vegetable such as peas, a leaf vegetable, a roll or biscuit and tea for $4 per inmate.
County Administrator Benjie Coats said the jail was constructed about 20 years to house up to 70 inmates. There were 80 inmates in the jail on Feb. 8, followed by six straight days with inmate numbers as high as 78 and as low as 70.
With the rising census, Coats said the expense for operating the facility has risen as well.
"We have not budgeted for operating at a prolonged census of 70-plus people," Coats said, citing a need for additional bed space.
Supervisors over the past seven or eight years have looked at adding on to the jail.