City inmates will also be driven to Carthage

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 28, 2008

Leake County will be a new stop for Vicksburg police vans ferrying city prisoners on daily rounds in search of jail space.

A contract with the sheriff in Carthage, 92 miles from Vicksburg, was approved Wednesday by Vicksburg officials who voiced consternationwhile signing off on the deal.

“Leake County?” North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said. “Is there anywhere closer?”

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Terms call for the city to pay $25 a day to house male prisoners and $30 for female prisoners. A pact in place for years with Issaquena County will continue. It carries a $30 perdiem fee, regardless of gender. The jail at Mayersville, 53 miles away, will remain the primary location for city prisoners, provided there is available space. But if Mayersville is full, a call will be made to Carthage to see about sending the city’s van there.

Final arrangements are pending the signature of Leake County Sheriff Greg Waggoner, City Attorney Nancy Thomas said. The jail in Leake, located between Madison and Neshoba counties, has a capacity of 108, with 22 beds currently empty, said the jail’s office manager, Dot Thomas.

Warren County has rented jail space to the city, which has not had a jail of its own for at least 100 years. Capacity here is 128 and the jail is full nearly all the time, its space filled with pretrial detainees.

The per-diem fees do not include the cost of staffing or fueling the city’s newly purchased, full-sized cargo van. Spending on housing  municipal prisoners in other locales is expected to exceed $450,000 in the coming fiscal year, expenses that led to the April purchase of the 2009 Ford E-350 and “cage” insert for $38,840.

The city has used other jails, too, Deputy Chief Richard O’Bannon said. “We’ve gone as far south as Adams County,” he said. “We can go about 100 miles in any one direction.”

Meanwhile, planning on a new Warren County Jail is moving forward. Colorado-based Voorhis/Robertson Justice Services Inc. won a consulting contract from Warren County supervisors in July.

The consultant will be in charge of determining the size, location and features of a new jail and aid in the selection of an architect. A report is expected from the company within a year and a bond issue to pay for capital costs likely will be stretched over a 10-year period.

Ten consecutive grand juries have identified a new jail as the top issue facing the county. In the report issued a week ago today, most jurors commended recent efforts by the county board to start the process, adding status updates on planning and construction should be provided during grand jury proceedings as the jail plans progress.

Portions date to 1907 for the current jail at Cherry and Grove streets, but most cells in the annex were built in 1977.