Jackson County supervisors fire jail design firm - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Jackson County supervisors fire jail design firm

Pryor & Morrow was hired last year to design a 827 bed jail to replace the current Jackson County Adult Detention Center. Pryor & Morrow was hired last year to design a 827 bed jail to replace the current Jackson County Adult Detention Center.
PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

The Jackson County Board of Supervisors on Monday fired the architect hired to design a new jail. Doing so put the process almost back to the beginning.

The Jackson County's jail saga added another twist Monday when the board parted ways with the architect firm of Pryor & Morrow.

"It is just one of those tough decisions," Supervisor John McKay said.

The company is currently under contract to design a brick and mortar jail big enough to hold more than 800 inmates. The county has long needed to replace the aging current jail. But supervisors like Troy Ross say they weren't comfortable with the $30 to $35 million price tag for the new jail.

"I felt like the price was escalating too fast, too much," Supervisor Ross said.

"Another factor that came into play was under the Justice Department requirements; they require a lot more separation rooms, dayrooms," said McKay.

The board said Pryor & Morrow was paid more than $1 million for all its work over the years, and the company will walk away with every dollar. Supervisors said by switching companies they will save millions more and build a longer lasting facility.

"I believe we can get a better price, and it is time to change paths now before we get further down the road," Ross said.

Supervisor Mike Mangum supports Pryor & Morrow and voted against canceling the contract.

"If there was something that needed to be changed, he would have been glad to change it. We would have been able to go to bid sooner with those changes," said Mangum.

Supervisors acknowledge they will have to start over with selecting a design firm, and they plan to choose from the groups that pitched ideas last month.

"We have listen to about four of the firms in the last several weeks," Supervisor Melton Harris said. "This been a learning experience and we have talked a lot about the jail and we want to proceed."

WLOX called Pryor & Morrow for a reaction, but company leaders had no comment.

Sheriff Mike Byrd, who oversees the jail, was surprised by the move.

"I approached the board in 2000 about a jail. I need a jail and I need one right now. It is a matter of safety for officers and the inmates," Byrd said.

Pryor & Morrow's contract will officially end at the end of the month.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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