Harrison County sheriff says federal jail order needs to end - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Harrison County sheriff says federal jail order needs to end

Three times a year, every year, the U.S. Justice Department reviews operations at the Harrison County jail. Now the sheriff and county leaders want that federal oversight to end. (Photo source: WLOX) Three times a year, every year, the U.S. Justice Department reviews operations at the Harrison County jail. Now the sheriff and county leaders want that federal oversight to end. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

It's been dragging on too long. Those are the words of Harrison County Sheriff Melvin Brisolara who told supervisors Monday it's time to remove the federal court decree that oversees operation of the county jail.

Many times, in recent years, the sheriff has talked about how it's time that federal decree be resolved. But this time, he's taking action, asking the board attorney to contact the U.S. Justice Department. 

It's a dark cloud that's been hanging over the Harrison County jail for nearly 20 years now.  Three times a year, every year, the U.S. Justice Department reviews operations at the county jail.

"If we have to go back before the judge, I think we need to do that. Because I think we need to get this thing to an end. It's been dragging on too long. And Harrison County has done everything it possibly can afford to do," said Sheriff Melvin Brisolara.

At Monday's board of supervisors meeting, the sheriff asked board attorney Tim Holleman to contact justice and initiate a conversation about ending the long standing court decree.

"We would have to decide how to legally close that chapter. And even if, if justice department doesn't agree with us, we have the option of going to the court and saying, this needs to be closed," said Holleman.

The original court decree was about overpopulation and under staffing at the jail. But even with significant improvements in both areas, county leaders say it seems that's never enough.

"Every time they come back though, the justice department comes back, they find one more little thing that we need to do. And the expense is astronomical. And the care that the prisoners get is much better than the victim," said County Supervisor Connie Rockco.

"We took care of the training. We have raised the base pay up to attract better qualified people. We've got people that go through training every day. We have more training going on now in that facility than we've had in the past two decades," said the sheriff.

"The jail is being run in a very efficient manner now. I think we've addressed everything we've ever asked us to do. And so it's time to close that, quite frankly," says attorney Holleman.

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