Harrison Co. regains control of jail from DOJ oversight

Harrison Co. regains control of jail from DOJ oversight

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - After 20 years of federal oversight, the Department of Justice is giving Harrison County back control of its jail.

One Harrison County supervisor calls this, "A big day and a big deal for Harrison County." The board shared the news following an executive session which included discussion of the jail oversight.

A federal decree placed limitations on the Harrison County Jail in 1995 after an investigation revealed overcrowding, undertrained staff, and medical care concerns. In 2007, the decree forced the inmate work center on Cowan Lorraine Road to close.

Overcrowding was one of the concerns. The jail can hold 760 inmates. In 2008, there were still more than 800 prisoners at times. But now Sheriff Brisolara said the daily average is between 500 and 550.

"Our jail is being run right," Brisolara told WLOX News in July. "We are doing the right thing and we are ready to move forward."

The decision from the Justice Department means the jail will again be allowed to house convicted state inmates and re-open the center on Cowan Lorraine Road.

"Which will put work crews back into the community, save taxpayers hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars because we get certified plumbers, electricians, carpenters, auto mechanics that we will be able to put out in the community," Brisolara said.

The work center could put up to 130 inmates to work, providing free labor for the county and cities.

"It's a win, win situation for everybody in Harrison County," Brisolara said.

Sheriff Brisolara faces candidate Troy Peterson in a runoff election later this month. When WLOX News spoke with Peterson last month, he said he was on board with the change.

"I would like to see a supervised work program established through MDOC where state inmates that are sentenced can be housed at the work center to work their fines or sentences off by working in the community," Peterson said.

Later today on WLOX News, Steve Phillips will have more details on what impact this decision will have on the jail and Harrison County.

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