Jackson Co. Jail Opponents Still Fighting

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - They have been quiet for months, but their voices will be heard again. This time, they are focused on a new fate for the Jackson County Adult Detention Center.

It hasn't been long since the group, Citizens for Relocation of the Jail, publicly fought to thwart Jackson County's plans to place a new detention center in the heart of Pascagoula.  Now they are trying to cancel the project altogether.

Pascagoula resident Alice Baker helped found the group, and she is ready to go public their new agenda.

"That was my whole objective to begin with, was to say, 'Please let us sit down with you and help you find another location,'" she said, "Since we've done all the other research, we've decided that we don't even need another location."

The group held a meeting Tuesday night, kicking off their new campaign.  John Simpson spoke on possible ways to eliminate the need for new jails.

"We have got to address the whole judicial system. We've got to find ways to do this. And many, many cities across the U.S. have said, 'No, we will not have more jails,'" he said.

Their new mission is to fail the bond issue, which Jackson County residents will vote on in November. District 2 Supervisor Melton Harris says failing the bond issue may be the only way to stall construction on the new facility.

"Once the bond is approved, then the board of the county will move toward building the jail, either at that site or at some other site."

He also said the board had considered multiple options for how to handle the jail dilemma. The current Jackson County Detention Center is outdated and severely overcrowded.  County officials say it's only a matter of time before the jail's maladies lead to tragedy, and the only feasible solution is the construction of a new facility.

Simpson believes the county hasn't done enough research on other ways to improve their current jail.  He suggested expanding the jail, implementing an ankle bracelet program to keep non-violent criminals out of the facility, and improving the faulty facilities.

"Right now we're just trying to educate people, and say here's the reason we'd say we wouldn't vote for it, and let them draw their own conclusions," Simpson said.

The group is still willing to work with the county to find a new solution to the problem.

"We're not fighting the supervisors. We simply want to offer them alternative options to solving this problem," Baker said.