Harrison County Jail To Reopen Work Center In June

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- Months after Harrison County was forced to ship state inmates out to make room in its jail, the sheriff says the work center will be back on line in June.

Back in September, the work center was shut down because the county failed to reduce its inmate population. However, there have been changes between then and now.

The biggest difference is that crews started work Monday on several temporary buildings meant to ease jail overcrowding. As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 811 prisoners in a jail meant to hold 760 inmates.

Sheriff Melvin Brisolara said the new buildings will not only free up space, they will end up saving taxpayers money. Once crews finish building and furnishing the temporary buildings, the Harrison County jail will be able to house as many as 420 of its prisoners there.

"That's going to allow us to move the inmates out of our work center on Lorraine Road," said Sheriff Brisolara. "Put them into the temporary building, which will be misdemeanor offenders."

Brisolara said once there's room again at the work center, the state has promised to send back the inmate labor the Sheriff says saves the county hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Many of those state inmates work at places like the county farm, which hasn't been touched since Katrina.

Brisolara said, "There's some buildings that we need to replace and get it cleaned up. Get the farm animals back for the petting zoo that we want to have out there. We're exciting about that, but it's going to take that work center back up and operating to get that work force that I need to get that county farm up and going."

The sheriff says all female prisoners will move to one of the temporary buildings going up next to the jail. Then in July, one block of male inmates will move into the buildings so repairs can begin inside the jail.

"They will be replacing all the swing doors to sliders," said the sheriff. "They'll be replacing all the locks in the facility. They'll be replacing the perimeter security, alarm system on the perimeter, the lighting and cameras. Also they'll be replacing the alarm system and cameras inside of the facility."

Sheriff Brisolara says all repairs and security upgrades should be done by the end of the year.

"This facility will be a lot safer and better than it's ever been. Not only on the security side, but also on the manpower side."

Sheriff Brisolara says expect the temporary buildings to be around for some time as the county looks for long term solutions to jail crowding. He says he favors building a separate center for people charged with misdemeanors because he says it's too expensive to keep them at the main jail.