MAYERSVILLE, Miss (WJTV) – The entire Issaquena County jail will be closing its doors in just two weeks after the county Board of Supervisors made the decision over funding.
This move has sparked a backlash from locals and the Sheriff.
The county jail in Issaquena County is also known as a regional correctional facility, meaning when neighboring counties have an overflow they send inmates there on top of the state department of corrections moving people in and out.
Come December 17th the regional correctional facility for Issaquena County will cease operations in Mayersville putting 53 people out of work.
“We’re the county seat, so of course we’re going to feel the impact of it,” Mayersville Mayor Linda Short said. “And it will truly hurt our small community and communities in the surrounding areas not just in Issaquena County but in the surrounding Delta.”
The decision came from the Issaquena County Board of Supervisors who saw the facility costing the county more money than the government was receiving in funds to house all the inmates and pay the staff.
“We would love to have someone come in and audit those books and see where the funding is going,” Mayor Short continued. “And I know there’s something we can do to rectify this problem.”
Issaquena County Sheriff Richard Jones was unavailable for comment, but Sheriff Willie March of Holmes County explained to us how a regional county jail’s funding works with the state.
“The Board of Supervisors generates so much money to take care of my own county inmates,” Sheriff March told us. “The Department of Corrections will give me so much money per inmate to take care of the state.”
That’s where Sheriffs like Willie March believe the lack of funding is as the Mississippi Department of Corrections cut back from paying $29.74 for counties to take in each state inmate plus no more 3% raises to make ends meet for wages and facility bills.
“You going to get $23.23,” Sheriff March stated. “I cannot sign that contract because the Board of Superiors will not continue to lose money on this facility.”
This has been the case for years at the Issaquena County regional jail where about half its 300 inmates come from the state prison system draining the budgets. A problem Sheriff March sees forcing other county jails to shut down.
“Issaquena, they just could not sustain it,” Sheriff March said. “I can’t sustain it if we don’t get some help from the legislators we’re going to have the same problem Issaquena got. Not only Holmes County, all these region jails going to feel this problem. I’m about $500,000 in the hole now.”
According to the County Board of Supervisors in Issaquena, there’s no answer yet as to where the current inmates at the jail will be transferred to. We reached out to the MDOC for more explanations but have not heard back.