Jail meetings to start again First gathering set for April 26

Published 11:26 am Tuesday, March 20, 2012

An informal panel of elected officials and those inside the criminal justice system will restart meetings next month to replace the current Warren County Jail.

Though no land has been purchased and no financing is in place, the committee’s head, Warren County District 4 Supervisor Bill Lauderdale, also president of the board, e-mailed members Monday to begin the roundup for a meeting at 1:15 p.m. April 26.

Before November’s general election, the panel was chaired by former supervisor David McDonald, who lost re-election to John Arnold in last August’s Republican primary runoff.

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Notified of the meeting were the four other supervisors, Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield, Sheriff Martin Pace, Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong, Circuit Clerk Shelly Ashley-Palmertree, circuit court judges Jim Chaney and Isadore Patrick, justice court judges James Jefferson, Jeff Crevitt and Eddie Woods, Chancellor Vicki Roach Barnes, County Prosecutor Ricky Johnson and Youth Court Clerk and Juvenile Detention Center Administrator Rachel Hardy.

The panel was formed in 2010 on the suggestion of consulting firm Voorhis/Robertson Justice Services, which concluded an ideal jail would house 350 to 650 beds on 20 to 50 acres. Officials slowly backed away from the concept after internal calculations showed property taxes could rise 3 to 6 mills if a facility is built to those standards.

Last May, supervisors pitched an offer to the public for jail sites and came up with nine formal offers that ranged from eight to 195 acres inside and outside Vicksburg’s city limits. The board held off asking legislators to file a bill giving specific permission to build outside the city until they settled on a tract; so far, the issue has idled.

Attorney general’s opinions have backed up the notion of building jails only inside county seats. Still, bills were signed by former Gov. Haley Barbour the past three years allowing five counties to build jails anywhere inside county borders. No county jail construction bills have appeared before the Local and Private Committee of either chamber during this year’s session.