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Warren County Sheriff, Supervisors tour Mississippi jails on fact-finding trips

The Warren County Board of Supervisors is taking the first steps toward a new jail facility, with Sheriff Martin Pace leading several fact-finding trips around the state.

During their Monday work session, the supervisors discussed their recent tour of the Pearl River County jail, which Pace requested they view for its dormitory-style housing features. Previously, the board toured the Hancock County jail.

The current Warren County jail was completed in 1907 and expanded in 1977, and Pace said the 114-year-old building is long overdue for an upgrade. To begin this process, he said, he’s spent time studying various features of other facilities in Mississippi and learning what is and is not effective.

“Pearl River County Jail was one of several jails that we have toured, and there are several more that we plan to tour, in hopes of looking at best practices from a variety of facilities,” Pace said. “There is no one facility that we’re looking to copy, but we’re looking at a variety of features that may be used in several different facilities.”

Dormitory-style housing is something Pace said is effective for low-risk and misdemeanor detainees. In addition to the Pearl River County Jail, Pace said the group is traveling to the Tate and DeSoto County jails in Mississippi, as well as Garland County Jail in Arkansas.

“There is nothing about the Pearl River County jail that I want to use their blueprint, but I knew they utilized a lot of dormitory-style units, which are ideal for very low-risk and/or misdemeanor detainees. We currently don’t have that,” Pace said. “We’re looking at best practices from a variety of facilities, and a compilation of all of those will hopefully result in a very secure, very efficient facility that will serve the citizens of Warren County.”

District 5 Supervisor Kelle Barfield said the trip was an opportunity to educate supervisors on best practices as the county prepares to build a new jail.

“These tours are an opportunity to find tools that are highly effective in other facilities,” Barfield said.

The next step for the board of supervisors is to make a request for qualifications to determine which companies are interested in partnering with the county on the design and construction of the new Warren County Jail.

For now, Pace said, his focus is on safety and security.

“The existing jail has served this community well for over 100 years, but it is now past time to replace it with a more modern facility,” Pace said. “My hopes are that the board of supervisors will design and build a facility that is both safe and secure for this community, the staff, and for the inmates.”