County jail issue needs to be resolved — now

Published 6:46 pm Friday, January 26, 2018

At some point, our elected officials and leaders have got to come together and agree on a new county jail site. They all agree a county jail is a necessity, but for far too long the county, city and economic leaders have not been able to come to a consensus on where the county jail should be located.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors, who has jurisdiction over construction of a county jail, has voted on placing the county jail at the Ceres Industrial Park after looking at several locations. In order to do so, however, they must have the backing of the Board of Alderman and Mayor since the site is outside the city limits of Vicksburg, as well as approval from the state legislature. City officials and Economic Development Director Pablo Diaz have made it clear they do not want a county jail at the industrial park, fearing the possible negative impact on economic development after claiming to have consulted with the Mississippi Development Authority.

A city committee created by Mayor George Flaggs has suggested four other locations — including the vacant Kuhn Memorial Hospital property — they consider suitable for a county jail. Flaggs has also offered to collaborate with the supervisors in building a county jail, indicating the estimated $3.6 million the city plans to use for a 35-cell holding facility could be used for the new county jail as long as the supervisors allow the city “input in their facility …”

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The supervisors are expected to discuss the four suggested sites during their work session Monday morning. It’s also expected none of the suggestions will be acceptable to the supervisors who have considered three of the four proposed sites and found them inadequate for a new jail.

Back in November, we backed the Board of Supervisors with their vote to place the new county jail at Ceres and we stand by that decision. The location of a county jail near the lagoon on the back end of the industrial park would be out of vision from Interstate 20 and would be no where near any current tenants at the under-utilized facility.

The industrial park is land the county already owns and has the infrastructure necessary for a county jail. Building it there would save taxpayers and the county a million dollars or more.

It’s time for that logical decision to be made by all the parties involved.