State inmate housing order ending

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 2, 2006

An order allowing the Lincoln County Jail to house state inmatesexpires Aug. 12, and two state prison oversight officials saidTuesday the authority will not be extended.

“It will not be renewed,” said Mississippi DepartmentCorrections Commissioner Chris Epps.

MDOC is conducting an investigation into alleged lax inmateoversight concerns at the Lincoln County Jail, including theissuing of improper passes that allow inmates to be releasedunsupervised for a given period of time. Sheriff Wiley Calcote hasdenied issuing passes that are not accoording to MDOCguidelines.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Also Tuesday, attorney and federal inmate issues advocate RonWelch – whose disapproval can also immediately strip certificationfrom a jail – said he would not renew the jail either.

“I get a lot of complaints personally about this sheriff and hisuse of inmates,” he said.

Epps and Welch are among several officials whose approval isneeded for inmates to be housed in county jails.

Epps has ordered all state inmates removed for the county jail.Twenty were moved July 19 and another 21 were expected to beremoved this week, with any remaining inmates to be pulled asquickly as possible after that.

MDOC reimburses counties for housing state inmates.

With state inmates no longer held here, Epps repeated anestimated $300,000 in potential financial impact to Lincoln County.He said the figure was based on the reimbursement rate and inmatehousing for a year.

County records show the state reimbursing the county $121,000 infiscal year 2005. County officials acknowledge any lost revenueregarding jail operations would have to be made up from anothersource, which could include higher property taxes.

Calcote said the jail budget was “very much in line” for thisfiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, and adjustments could be made inthe jail budget to lessen the removal’s impact in the 2006budget.

Epps pointed out another impact of no longer having stateinmates here.

“What about all the free labor,” asked Epps, referring to inmatework crews that handle a variety of tasks around the county. “I’mnot going to put a price on that.”

Calcote said the removal of state inmates would not affect someprograms at the jail.

“The jail kitchen and garden will continue,” said Calcote, buthe did not elaborate on how that would be accomplished.

In a possible sign of the inmate removal’s impact, Brookhavenaldermen voted Tuesday night to look for two full-time employees toclean ditches several days a week and work with the streetdepartment on other days. Previously, inmates had been used for theditch-cleaning activities.