GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi’s Department of Corrections is still looking for ways to ease the burden of a serious staffing shortage. One solution includes transferring inmates from state prisons to smaller facilities.
The George County Correctional Facility is currently filled with 342 state inmates. That puts it at more than 75 percent of its maximum capacity.
“In the last couple weeks, we have received 142 state inmates from MDOC," explained warden Bobby Fairley.
An agreement with MDOC says the jail is required to hold at least 200 state inmates. However, keeping the number at a minimum means less state funds for the facility. The additional inmates bring in extra money.
“We receive approximately an extra $84,000 a month with those inmates,” said Fairley. “Prior to having those, we were having to borrow out of the county’s general fund to cover our bills.”
Fairley says George County allocated between $11,000 to $50,000 per month to fund the jails operations.
The George County Correctional Facility made adjustments for the incoming inmates, leaving space for local offenders.
“This is an empty zone, that way if we get an influx from our local police departments, sheriffs departments, we will be able to move them into here," said Fairley as he walked through the dorm.
The extra inmates highlight the need for more correctional officers in George County.
“We are currently a couple officers short but we’re in that hiring process,” Fairley said. “It is a stressful job, being undermanned and understaffed.”
Fairley says the goal is for the jail is to fund its own operations, from maintenance to staffing, without dipping into the county’s pockets.
“That’s our whole goal here. Is to not be a burden on the taxpayers of George County. This jail was meant to be self-sustaining."
Most state inmates housed at the George County jail were transferred from the South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville.