Pascagoula Neighbors Speak Out Against New County Jail Next Door

"I was sadden and disappointed."

Business owner Ernestine Black says when she heard a new county jail was coming to her neighborhood, she thought "trouble."

"I think it is a racial thing, they want to dump the jail in our community. It is not right," Black said.

Tuesday night, the Pascagoula City Council gave its okay for the county to construct a $20 million, 564 bed facility on land located near Fair Street and Telephone Road.

The new jail will be just feet away from the current Adult Detention Center. Council member Joe Abston says the jail is needed, and denies the decision was racially motivated.

"The county is currently under federal mandate to build a jail in the county seat, which is Pascagoula, and they prove their case of having an inconvenience," Abston said.

Sources tell WLOX News that 436 people are behind bars at the ADC, but the facility is only suppose to hold 180 inmates.

The overcrowding problem worries Supervisor John McKay.

"The federal judge is breathing down our neck to construct a new jail because ours is overcrowded. The board does not take any joy whatsoever in building this 500 jail facility at its location, where it is.  It has to be built. It is something that had to be done," McKay said.

But neighborhood residents, including Father Charles McMahon of The St. Peter Apostle Church, say they plan on fighting to keep the jail from coming to there area.

"Who would want to come here now and buy a house next to a prison here especially a complex like this," Father Charles McMahon said.

Parishioner Marcia Stallworth has even started a petition.

"It will let the lawmakers, or the judge, or whoever, know we have people standing in opposition."

The County officials say they plan to start building the new jail in 2008.