Sheriff, jail get good marks during supervisors’ tour

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Lincoln County Jail was found to have met all standardsduring a state-mandated walk-through inspection by countysupervisors Tuesday.

After quarterly inspections by the state fire marshal andbi-annual inspections by the health department and the bureau ofbuilding, grounds and real property management, the supervisorsperformed their annual inspection and found that the quality of thejail facilities has steadily improved under Sheriff Steve Rushing’stenure.

“When you compare our jail with other counties and their jails,we have a great facility,” Rushing said. “We don’t have any majorproblems with our grounds or security.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Upon completion of their inspection, the supervisors agreed.

“Since we’ve been in office, we’ve seen improvement every year,”said District Four Supervisor Doug Moak. “There’s no majorproblems, and the place seems much more clean.”

The supervisors appreciate Rushing’s improvements of thefacilities because, from their positions above the county, theyknow of the great costs of operating the jail.

“The disheartening fact of the whole deal is it costs the countyso much to house those who break the law,” Moak said. “It takes alittle more than 60 percent of our county’s general budget for thecriminal justice system.”

Of the 61 percent, $672,341 goes into the jail, while another$109,200 funds the kitchen. Rushing said the jail was “on track”with its current budget, and even managed to beat it in 2007, whenthe jail kitchen came in approximately $10,000 under budget becauseof the efforts of Rushing and his staff to streamline the kitchen’soperation.

“We just combined some of the food supply companies and got moreof our goods from fewer companies,” Rushing said. “We just went outand found better prices.”

Other minor improvements have also recently taken place.

When Rushing came into office in September 2006, he and hisstaff inherited and repaired several minor problems, such as lowwater pressure, small leaks and a few dysfunctional toilets. Theseproblems are all gone.

In fact, from all the jail’s recent inspections, only the statefire marshal took issue with one, minuscule problem – a 6-inch holein the floor’s rubber coating in the inmate working crew’s cellblock. The supervisors delighted in the only mark against thejail.

“I think that fire inspection speaks for itself,” said DistrictThree Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson. “Just one patch in thefloor, and that’s the only problem.”

Rushing said the rip in the rubber was a do-it-yourself repair.While it is being taken care of, he has his eyes on a biggerproject.

When the Brookhaven Police Department moves out of its officesto the old Mississippi Highway Patrol building on Highway 51,Rushing wants to expand the sheriff’s department into the vacatedspace while bringing all the jail’s facilities onto the same sideof the parking lot.

“One of the things we’re looking at is maybe moving the kitchenover to this side,” Rushing said. “As far as a security standpoint,I’d just like to get everything of ours condensed into onelocation.”

Rushing said his plan is only a wishful thought at this point intime, as BPD’s move is still at least one year away.

“It’s something we and the supervisors will have to get togetheron and decide what’s best for us,” Rushing said.