A Harrison County inmate remains on the loose. So a state of emergency has been declared at the county jail. On Monday, Sheriff Melvin Brisolara canceled deputies vacations. And he assigned off duty patrolmen to the jail, hoping that would quell the potential of an inmate uprising.
The man on the run is Mark Brown. He disappeared Sunday morning when he reportedly broke through a jailhouse wall, climbed over barbed wire fencing and ran off.
"As sheriff of Harrison County, I did declare a state of emergency at the Harrison County jail," Brisolara told Harrison County supervisors.
Consequently, 822 inmates at the jail will remain in lockdown indefinitely. That number should have been 823. But while Sheriff Melvin Brisolara met with supervisors, Mark Brown remained a fugitive.
"I just want to assure you all we're doing everything in our power to get him back in custody," said Brisolara.
While deputies chased down information that they hoped would lead them to Brown, Sheriff Brisolara and warden Don Cabana told Harrison County supervisors that the time had come to make immediate improvements at their jail.
"If it wasn't out of the bag before, it came out of the bag this weekend, in terms of the deplorable conditions of that jail," Cabana said.
At the jail on Monday, armed guards lined the perimeter of the complex. And off duty sheriff's deputies worked inside the facility. They were there to enforce the state of emergency. Sheriff Brisolara said he took those rather dramatic steps to temporarily prevent another unmitigated disaster.
"Until we get some problems resolved, that jail will stay under lockdown, until we can get control of it," he said.
To modernize the jail, and make it safer for everybody, supervisors okayed roughly $10 million in jail repairs. Broken security cameras will be repaired. The roof and the air conditioning system will be fixed. And inadequate cell doors will be replaced, so what happened Sunday morning, when a door was used to bust through a jail wall, doesn't happen again.
Windy Swetman represents Harrison County's District 1. "Certainly we need to make sure that we don't just put a band aid on anything," he said.
According to the sheriff, "We feel we know what we're doing when it comes to trying to get this jail to run properly."
Another one of the items approved was a temporary housing complex for minimum security inmates. That way, 384 inmates will have a place to be locked up, while their cell block inside the Harrison County jail is being repaired.
"If we want to ensure the citizens of Harrison County that we're trying our best to protect them, we've got to make some major decisions here and move on."