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Mississippi county poised to close jail over finances

Corrections officials in Mississippi say they are considering their next move as officials in one county plan to close a lockup that holds state and county inmates.

Eddie Holcomb, who serves on the Issaquena County Board of Supervisors, told the Clarion Ledger the board voted Monday to close the Issaquena County Regional Correctional Facility for financial reasons.

In a Thursday news release, the Mississippi Department of Corrections says it has not received written notice of the closure. The release says Commissioner Pelicia E. Hall wrote a letter to the board Wednesday that the county will violate an inmate housing agreement with the state if it moves ahead with the Dec. 17 closure.

“If the county moves forward to shut down the regional operation as it relates to the housing of state inmates, the county will have defaulted on said Inmate Housing Agreement,” Commissioner Hall said in the letter. “As such, the MDOC will take the appropriate action.”

The Corrections Department release says the department has received two letters, dated Wednesday, in which the county is demanding a lump sum payment of $312,270, a higher daily payment of $29.74 per inmate and 350 inmates, an increase over the current maximum 334.

Commissioner Hall told the county that the demand is outside the terms of the existing contract signed by the board president, Sheriff Richard Jones, and the MDOC. Also, she said, there is no requirement under state law that the MDOC meet the demand.

The current contract, dated July 1, 2016, sets the per diem at $23.92 per inmate, with a 2 percent increase each year. The current per diem is $25.61 per inmate.

Jones said the board made the decision to close the jail against his wishes.

Jones said the facility employs 53 people, who are in danger of losing their jobs.

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