Jackson Co. Jail debaters make last pitch before election day

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - On the last day to convince voters, people on both sides of the Jackson County jail bond issue pushed their cause.

"Do you think our jail needs to be replaced? Our sheriff and our board does. The question is, 'How we are going to fund it?' And this bond is the cheapest way to do that," Jackson County Public Information Officer Kenny Flanagan said.

Flanagan knows the jail issue is a sensitive subject for many, but he wants voters to realize doing nothing is not an option. The jail is overcrowded, making it a security risk.

"Sunday night we had 441 inmates, and we only have room for 296 . Monday, those same 441 inmates were served in a kitchen that was built for 79."

Leah Rollins and Ernestine Black spent the day trying to persuade voters to reject the bond issue. The women say the county is wasting money on a short term solution.

Black said, "We know they need a jail, but we know they do not need to spend $22 million to build a jail. Why give prisoners luxury to live in?"

"That is really a lot of money. People are hurting and that is asking a bit much for taxpayers," Rollins said.

As the countdown continues to voting day, both groups hope these last minute efforts will make a lasting impression on more than 79,000 voters in Jackson County.

"It is really easy to make us the bad guy on this, but we are not. We are trying to address a tremendous need in our community," Flanagan said.

"I think they are being selfish about it, because they haven't really realized the impact it would have if were in their community," Rollins said.

County officials say under state law the jail has to be located in the county seat of Pascagoula. The county wants to build the new 548 bed jail on Kenneth Avenue.