George County feeling financial hit from loss of inmates

George County feeling financial hit from loss of inmates

GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - George County is looking to other states, which may need help housing inmates. Supervisors passed a resolution to that effect at a special meeting Tuesday morning. They're looking for alternatives, since the State of Mississippi is pulling inmates from the county's regional jail.

George County has been housing state inmates at its regional jail for more than a decade.

"It was a win-win situation for the Department of Corrections and the State of Mississippi to save millions of dollars and also for these rural counties to get a regional jail," said Supervisor Henry Cochran.

But suddenly, with little notice to county leaders, the state pulled 80 inmates from the regional correctional facility. That's 30 percent of the state inmate population there. Removing the prisoners and the substantial revenue paid to house those inmates.

"Right now in George County, it's equating to $72,000 a month for us. But this is not only affecting George County, it's affecting other counties throughout our state," said Supervisor Larry McDonald.

Supervisors say from a taxpayer's standpoint, it makes no sense. Inmates being pulled from the local facility will likely wind up in privately run correctional facilities that cost much more.

"It's just simple math. We house these inmates for 29.74 a day in these regional jails. And we've been maxed out at some time. We've been doing that for years at the same price. And it costs the Department of Corrections a lot more to house these inmates," Cochran explained.

With few options, county leaders are looking at every alternative to keep this regional correctional facility open.

"We passed a resolution to possibly contract through other states, bring inmates in here. It's just not a lot we can do, the state kind of has us over a barrel right now, so we passed a resolution basically looking for options to offset the money that we're losing," said McDonald.

Both supervisors say the state has not given the county an explanation for why the inmates were removed.

Supervisors say a worst case scenario would involve possible layoffs or even closing the regional jail. They are hopeful an alternative can be found, either with housing other inmates, or having the Department of Corrections return those state inmates that were removed.

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