No solution found during special meeting on George Co. Jail - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

No solution found during special meeting on George Co. Jail

Tensions filled the George County board room as citizens joined jail workers packed in - eager to learn the future of their jobs amidst the George County Regional Correctional Facility's financial crisis. (Photo source: WLOX) Tensions filled the George County board room as citizens joined jail workers packed in - eager to learn the future of their jobs amidst the George County Regional Correctional Facility's financial crisis. (Photo source: WLOX)
GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

In George County, lawmakers still scratching their heads to find a solution to the financial problems plaguing the county's jail. A special meeting called Tuesday morning yielded no concrete plans to save the struggling correctional facility. 

Tensions filled the George County board room as citizens joined jail workers packed in - eager to learn the future of their jobs amidst the George County Regional Correctional Facility's financial crisis.

"The objective of this board is not to cost anyone their jobs," said George County Board of Supervisors President Larry McDonald.

For a little over an hour, Sheriff Keith Havard, jail administrators, and the board went back and forth about potential solutions. But they kept hitting a brick wall trying to get beyond two unfavorable options.

"Either raise taxes on the people of George County or make cuts in our county government in order to pay the bills at the jail," McDonald said. 

The problem stems from the state pulling out some of its inmates to place them in private prisons, leading to huge revenue losses at the county-run jail. Shutting down the state side of the jail completely isn't an option because that's the bulk of the facility's revenue stream. 

Discussion of making more cuts to the already understaffed jail sparked commotion from the crowd. 

"We've got certain positions that we have to have by MDOC rules and we've pretty much cut all that we can possibly cut without violating our contract," said Sheriff Havard. 

But there was a short term fix suggested to keep the jail afloat until the next fiscal year.

"Try to receive 50 more state inmates and find a way to come up with a few extra dollars on the county side and meet in the middle," said corrections consultant William Jones.  

Still, supervisors say they need to look at the big picture and get out of what they call a debt spiral. Unable to find a solution, they've scheduled a work session May 15 at 1pm to weigh their options. 

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