JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Sheriffs representing 15 Mississippi counties visited the State Capitol Wednesday, asking for more money to house state inmates at regional jails.
One bill is now in the House and one is in the Senate. The sheriff’s say extra funding is a must, or they might have to turn inmates away.
“I don’t think it is fair to the 15 counties," said Sheriff Holmes County Sheriff Willie March. “Right now, we are overspending the amount of money coming in. The payroll is running out more than the inmates.”
Sheriff March is the president of the Regional Jail Association in Mississippi. He, and a group of other sheriff’s--including Jefferson County sheriff Peter Walker--spent the day at the capitol in hopes of getting more funding to house, feed and rehabilitate state inmates.
“We are under-funded, and we are trying to get more funds so we can do the things that are necessary to hold the state inmates that we’ve been holding for a period of time,” said Sheriff Walker.
Right now, March and Walker say they are getting less than $25 a day, per inmate, to house state inmates, and they say that’s not enough.
“We are here today to request from my legislators and senators, to try to get the per diem up to $29.74, that was the contract price that was originally signed years ago,” said Sheriff Walker.
“You can’t even get a hotel at $29.74. That’s the cheapest thing in town," said Sheriff March. “It’s not like anyone wants to stay at a regional jail, but for the state of Mississippi it will save money.”
The sheriffs say they did get a chance to meet with lawmakers, and hope it helps get them the funding they need.
“They assured us they would do all they can. If they don’t, then the inmates would have to go back to the state of Mississippi, because we can’t afford to house them,” said Sheriff March.
“Why care about it? These are people, and citizens also, and we need to treat them that way," said Sheriff Walker. “They committed a crime and they have to be punished for their crimes and the state of Mississippi has to provide some place for them to be housed.”