Get a new jail, grand jurors say again

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2008

For the 11th consecutive time, a new jail was deemed the No. 1 priority for Warren County in the grand jury’s written report and, echoing August’s grand jury, the citizen panel praised supervisors for the progress that has been made.

“We were pleased with the study that (the county board) has adopted for the creation of a new jail facility,” jurors wrote. “We hope that they will proceed with diligence concerning the decisions to be made about the new facility.”

Although talk of a larger, more safe and secure detention facility has been under way for more than 10 years, research has been under way since August 2007 to come up with a replacement for the facility at Grove and Cherry streets. The older jail and the newer annex, completed in 1979, is consistently filled to its capacity of 118. Vicksburg taxpayers have been footing the bill for housing detainees in excess of that number in area jails and the cost of ferrying them back and forth. Vicksburg’s bill from the Issaquena County Correctional Facility plus fuel tallied $376,365 in 2007, with only $21,456 paid to Warren County for housing detainees here.

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In July, supervisors hired Voorhis/Robertson Justice Services Inc. of Colorado on the recommendation of a review panel to coordinate steps leading to design and construction. About $136,000 was allotted in the budget for the process.

Deciding to replace the current building, which is near the courthouse, or moving to a new location will be part of the planning process. Supervisors have also indicated they’d like to explore building a regional facility where some operating costs could be offset by renting jail space to additional area governments. Already, however, Hinds and other area counties are planning regional lockups.

During the week the jurors met with Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace, Youth Court Judge Johnny Price, Youth Court prosecutor Ricky Johnson and Vicksburg Chief of Police Tommy Moffett in addition to touring the Jail.

Also recommended by the grand jury were:

* The positions of county prosecutor should be a full-time position with an assistant and clerical support.

* More investigators are needed for the Vicksburg Police Department, the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and the District Attorney’s Office. The report also noted low pay and turnover in city and county law enforcement.

* The citizens of Warren County should urge local legislators to become more involved with the juvenile justice system and implement reforms as a long-term solution to reducing crime, citing the belief that “early intervention in the lives of our youth is the key to substantially reducing the incidence of future crime.”  They also recommended funding for early intervention.

Grand juries members are chosen randomly from voter rolls. Their recommendations are advisory.


Contact Megan Holland at