Forrest Co. eyes land for new jail

Published 12:29 am Sunday, March 25, 2007

Forrest County officials have 45 days to complete a $400,000 deal to buy a 35-acre site near Mississippi Highway 42 for a new jail.

The sale depends on favorable results from an environmental assessment and soil testing, board of supervisors attorney David Miller said.

Miller said Thursday that the site was once a brick factory.

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Building a new jail has been a priority for supervisors after Hurricane Katrina damaged the county work center, compounding overcrowding at the jail.

The new facility would hold about 400 medium-security and 200 minimum-security beds, and be built to allow for future additions, Miller said.

Miller said because state law requires that county jails be placed within the corporate limits of the county seat, the jail has to be inside Hattiesburg.

State law does not require a public hearing on where the jail will be placed, but residents will have the opportunity to weigh in when the time comes for a vote on a resolution to issue bonds to help pay for the jail, Miller said.

The project includes renovation of the law enforcement complex attached to the jail.

It is still unclear how much the project will cost, Miller said, but the goal is to have plans complete by June.