Jackson Co. supervisors look to Harrison Co. for jail solutions

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Some Jackson County supervisors believe they may have found a solution to the severe jail overcrowding problem, at least in the short term.

Last week, officials at the jail told us they housed about 400 inmates, which is 100 inmates more than capacity. On Wednesday, supervisors and sheriff's department officials toured the Harrison County jail to see what's being done there to ease overcrowding.

Harrison County inmates told us they refer to the main jail as the "Top of the Hill." They say they prefer to stay in the temporary buildings.

Inmate Brady Frazier said "It's a privilege compared to what's on top of the hill. You don't have to worry about fighting, someone taking your trays, or what have you."

Jail officials report fewer discipline problems among inmates in the temporary buildings. That was one of the things that impressed Jackson County supervisors touring the facility.

"It does reduce the inmate population tension and overcrowding situation, which lessens your problems," Jackson County Supervisor John McKay said. "I think this is a real viable thing that we can do in Jackson County to solve our short term problem of jail overcrowding."

Harrison County Sheriff Melvin Brisolara said, "For fast, immediate relief, the temporary buildings really came through for us in Harrison County. I think it would work out great for them if they need a solution quick."

Sheriff Brisolara offered some advice on building a new jail and shared some of the mistakes that were made at the Harrison County jail. For instance, he advised the Jackson County leaders to avoid putting in porcelain toilets and pods.

"At the start, you can control what it's going to cost you," said Sheriff Brisolara. "It's a lot cheaper to pay up front than on the back end."

Jackson County Supervisor Melton Harris said, "There's no reason to reinvent a wheel when you find someone that's already got it invented. He told us a lot of things that we're just in the infant stage of building a jail. He told us a lot of dos and a lot of don'ts. That's very important for us. I think we can greatly benefit from his experience."

Harrison County jail officials say they've been pleasantly surprised by how well the temporary buildings have held up. The buildings can hold about 450 inmates.

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