Jail planner wins month’s extension on deadline

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Colorado-based professional jail planner will have longer to wrap up a study on the size and scope of a new Warren County jail.

Glitches in the software purchased to collect data on the jail as part of upgrades in E-911 in the past two years was cited as a reason by lead consultant Dave Voorhis, when reached by phone after the vote by Warren County supervisors to extend his firm’s contract by a month.

The cost of the extension was not known.

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Payments to Voorhis/Robertson Justice Services Inc. total $171,227.93 since it was hired, $34,905.93 of which has been since the fiscal year began Oct. 1.

At a meeting with local judiciary officials and others last week, Voorhis encouraged locals to form another panel — one that would look at how criminal cases can be processed quicker to ease jail overcrowding and avoid filling up a new jail with pretrial detainees as soon as it is opened.

Tentatively, the county is on track to find a 50-acre rural site and complete an expandable 350-bed detention facility in the next four years. The capacity of the current jail is 128, almost all of whom are pretrial detainees. The City of Vicksburg routinely uses other facilities for detention, primarily one in Issaquena County.

A committee of county officials has met several times with the firm since the study began a year ago. Its members — District 1 Supervisor David McDonald, County Administrator John Smith, Sheriff Martin Pace and Undersheriff Jeff Riggs — came in contact with Voorhis/Roberston Justice Services Inc. during a 2007 seminar in Colorado dealing with planning new jails. On Monday, supervisors also agreed to tap county funds to pay travel expenses for McDonald on a tour of recently built jails in Kentucky and Indiana with Voorhis. The trip was planned for mid-January, McDonald said.

The current, 128-bed facility at Cherry and Grove streets is continually full, with pre-trial detainees. The oldest portions of the structure, a state landmark, date to 1904.

Financing a new jail could come from issuing construction bonds and/or a tax rate increase. About $1 million in extra revenue might be needed to pay for the added staffing, perhaps through a millage rate increase.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at dbarrett@vicksburgpost.com