Here on the coast most of our local jails are overflowing, outdated and need to be replaced. From Hancock County to Jackson County there are problems that need to be resolved in the coming months. Last week at a Harrison County Board of Supervisors meeting the idea of a regional jail came up.
This is something we think should be explored. Right now Hancock County does not have a jail because it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Since the storm Hancock county prisoners are being housed in other regional jails. In Harrison County the jail is overcrowded and needs a lot of work.
In Jackson County the supervisors have been trying for several years to build a new jail to replace the old detention center which needs to be replaced immediately. So why not consider a regional jail for the more violent or inmates charged with felonies. Leaving the individual counties to house those charged with misdemeanors.
There may be a lot of reasons why a regional jail would not work here in South Mississippi but now is the right time to take a hard look at the idea. Each county needs a new facility. So why not pool their money and build one regional jail that could serve all three counties. You will have transportation issues which would be an added expense. Also for counties to be part of a regional jail outside of their area may require legislative action.
Then there would be the big issue of where to locate the facility. A lot of obstacles would have to be overcome to even consider a regional jail. However, in these tight economic times it seems to us that the supervisors in all three counties should meet and at least consider whether a regional jail makes sense.
The cost of housing local prisoners continues to climb each year and one way to spend tax payers dollars more wisely would be to consider a regional approach.
That's our opinion, we would like to hear yours. Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org, post your comments below.
David Vincent WLOX-TV General Manager