New jail needed, grand jurors say again

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2009

The last dozen grand juries have recommended a new jail for Warren County, and the report written by members of this week’s panel is no different.

The condition of the jail was at the top of the list of four concerns the grand jury brought forward in its written report, filed with Circuit Court Judge Isadore Patrick as jurors completed their service Friday.

“We are pleased that the Board of Supervisors are actively pursuing the study and construction of a new jail facility,” they wrote, and commended the board on its diligence in pursuing necessary decisions.

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Unlike previous panels which have inspected the jail later in the week, members of this grand jury toured the jail Monday.

Studies for a new and larger jail facility have been undertaken for about 10 years, but since August 2007 efforts have increased to make it a reality, with county supervisors hiring consultants and debating local versus regional facilities.

The older jail and the newer annex, completed in 1979, is consistently filled to its capacity of 118. The overflow population has to be taken to Issaquena County Jail, resulting in increased housing and fuel costs being borne by Vicksburg taxpayers.

The 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.

This week’s grand jury also echoed former panels by stating that more investigators are needed at the police and sheriff’s departments, the state Bureau of Narcotics and the District Attorney’s office.

“The Grand Jury also holds concerns regarding the pay and retention of city and county law enforcement,” they wrote.

A third recommendation was that the citizens of Warren County contact local legislators, urging them to increase funding and support for youth intervention programs. Substantial support is needed, they wrote, “as a long-term solution toward reducing crime in our community.”

The fourth and final recommendation was for funding to operate more county properties in order to further separate judicial activities from the day-to-day business of city and county government, “and to insure the safety of Warren County citizens.”

The grand jury was impaneled Monday. Members considered 111 cases against 133 individuals, with 98 indictments resulting.

Fifteen people were “no billed,” or had their cases dismissed. One was reduced to a misdemeanor.

In addition to touring the jail, the grand jury met with Sheriff Martin Pace, County Youth Court Judge Johnny Price, County Youth Court Prosecutor Ricky Johnson, Chief of Police Tommy Moffett and Board of Supervisors president Richard George.


Contact Pamela Hitchins at