Jackson Co. Jail debate heats up before bond vote

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - On November 4th, Jackson County residents will vote on a $22 million bond issue for a new jail. Both jail opponents and county supervisors are spending time and money with the hope of winning over voters.

Leah Rollins and her neighbors simply don't want a new jail built in their Pascagoula neighborhood.

"It's not a pleasant thing to look at, and it is a constant reminder of the crime and violence that is committed by the prisoners who live there."

The 564 bed facility would replace the current Adult Detention Center, which officials say is too small and outdated.

"I think it is selfish. I think no one thinks about how the citizens feel," Rollins said.

The group is letting their disapproval be known, especially to supervisors. On Monday, jail opposition members showed up to the board meeting wearing "No Vote" t-shirts.

"We are trying to distribute information to the public so they can be aware the supervisors are wasting our money unnecessarily. These are hard economic times, and they are going to build a $22 million jail. We don't have a school in Pascagoula that is $22 million," Rollins said.

"We go back to state law that requires it within the city limits of Pascagoula. Unless we get a local and private law passed, those issues are dead," Board of Supervisors President John McKay said.

McKay is optimistic voters will pass the bond because the jail is a critical issue. He says it's a must that the county ease the overcrowding problem soon.

"We are portrayed as the bad guys, but we are not."

County supervisors are spending $30,000 on an informational campaign called "Lockdown Crime, Lockdown Costs."

"We have some handouts going out and we have some newspaper ads that state the facts as we see them."

Also at Monday's meeting, opposition members proposed other potential sites where the jail could be built. McKay said the supervisors will look at all options. But right now, plans are that the jail will be built on Kenneth Avenue in Pascagoula.