Federal inmates to help Hancock jail budget

Hancock County jail. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Hancock County jail. (Photo source: WLOX News)

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Hancock County Sheriff's Department is awaiting news that could help improve the county's over-all economic picture.

Sheriff's officials have filed paper work with the United State's Justice Department for approval to house federal inmates in the Hancock County Jail. If given the okay it's a move that could generate more than $500,000 annually for the jail's budget.

Presently about 170 state and county inmates know the sound of the iron doors that lock them inside of the Hancock County Jail. But soon more than 45 federal inmates could become familiar with the noise.

"The jail cost the same amount to run whether there is a 100 prisoners or 300 prisoners which it can hold. So anything we can add to it, to off set some of the cost for the taxpayers, that's what we're going to do," said Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam.

It cost the county $3.3 million a year to run the jail. The State Department of Corrections pays the jail $20 daily to house state inmates going through a drug and alcohol program there. The feds would pay $37 a day to house its prisoners there.

Adam said, "They could be an illegal immigrant, it could be somebody waiting a trial in federal court it's a varying thing."

The sheriff says the good news is there will not be a need to increase the jail's staff to take in additional inmates.

"Same staffing level the only cost that will go up are the food costs and we have that managed pretty tight around $2.50 a day for three meals," explained Adam.

The county's new jail is only about two-years-old and is equipped with state-of-the-art security features. One reason the sheriff says chances of getting the federal inmates looks good.

"Not every place can house them and our proximity to I-10, which is a major East West corridor, I think helps as well," said the sheriff.

The jail was recently accredited by the American Correctional Association. Adam says that will help, too.

"Anything with the federal government does take time. Even though your approved and you've done everything they've asked. It just takes a little time," he added.

Adam expects to hear from the Justice Department any day now.

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