HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Hancock County leaders celebrated yet another post-Katrina milestone this week. Thursday was the official opening and open house at the new Public Safety Complex.
The $38 million building includes a new justice courtroom and county jail. That's something Hancock County hasn't had in nearly six and a half years.
Authorities say it's one of the most secure jails in the state.
"It's modern. The old jail was built in 1986 and it had some deficiencies," said Correctional Officer Dwayne Bremer.
Hurricane Katrina damaged the old jail beyond repair more than six years ago. Since that time, Hancock County inmates have been housed at jails in surrounding areas. Right now they are in the Marion County Jail.
"Thirty five dollars a day, per inmate. And we average about 120 every day," said Sheriff Ricky Adam. "And then you've got transportation costs of going back and forth to Marion three, four, five, six times a week. It's been really hard on our budget."
Adam said being able to bring Hancock County inmates home will save taxpayers almost a million dollars a year. And with the Justice Court inside the building, there will be even more savings.
The jail can also hold up to 303 prisoners.
"We're in the maximum security dorm," Jail Warden Evan Hubbard said as he led WLOX News on a tour of the new facility. "These are the inmates that give the facility a problem. The showers have steel doors on them, so the inmates don't have free reign to go in and out of the showers. They're in their a designated times."
Jail guards will have a bird's eye view of everything that's going on from a high tech control room.
"We have a 180 degree view of all the inmates. We have video monitoring, audio monitoring."
Visitations have also gone high tech. Inmates will no longer have personal contact with relatives.
"It's a timed visit for 30 minutes. The biggest advantage to us with the video visitation is the fact that it cuts down on bringing in contraband to the inmates," explained Hubbard.
Thursday's open house was for invited guests. The public will be able to check it out this Saturday afternoon 2-4pm.