State inmates are being removed from the Harrison County jail and jail work center because of ongoing problems with jail overcrowding.
Some 148 inmates will be transferred from the work center.
State inmates are the prisoners who are out in public every day. They pick up litter, help beautify roadways and save the county plenty of money in labor costs.
"It's a fact that we save up to three million in county labor. And the program receives one million from the state just for having the program. So, that's about four million dollars a year," says Captain Alvin King.
He would hate to lose the work crew program he's helped organize and oversee for the past eight years. He also doesn't think removing state inmates from the work center will solve jail overcrowding.
"If they take these state inmates, 148 that we house here, we could bring 148 inmates from the jail, but then there would be another 148 go to jail the next day. It just affects the program. The concentration shouldn't be on the work center, but on the jail," King reasoned.
The warden agrees that any gains in space would likely be short lived.
"Then we'll be moving some prisoners out of here into the work center and that will open up a few beds in here. But I certainly don't have any allusions about those beds being empty for very long," said Dr. Donald Cabana.
As for losing those inmate work crews, the warden says that won't happen. They'll simply be re-configured, with the work done by other inmates, like misdemeanants.
"If there is a lapse, it's going to be very brief. And we're going to try to continue the work crews going without too much of an interruption," says the warden.
Warden Cabana says while the removal of the state inmates will free up some jail beds, it's still only a temporary fix to an overcrowding problem that still needs some serious attention.
"Is it realistic to think that we can ever maintain the population at 760? Not without some drastic changes," he said.