Sheriff: Mississippi jail may soon need tents

Published 1:32 pm Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Adams County jail is so crowded that inmates soon may be sleeping in tents, says Sheriff Ronny Brown.

He said he had five open beds on Friday, and a deputy said they remained open Saturday. When they fill up, Brown plans to begin assigning new inmates to 30 mattresses on the floor. If those fill, he’ll put up tents behind the jail, he said.

“We haven’t seen it like this before,” Brown said.

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Brown said 10 rooms with double beds are used for storage because they cannot be locked and don’t have toilets, and another two rooms are designed for mentally ill patients.

Increased drug arrests, clogged courts and inmates who cannot make bond all contribute to the crowding, Brown said.

He said about 80 inmates cannot make bond — and about a dozen await transfers from the city jail to the county jail.

“If you’re selling drugs or stealing you belong in jail,” he said.

Justice Court Judge Charles Vess said in August that court also needed to expand, because its schedule was so packed. He said Friday that he hadn’t known about the jail crowding.

“It’s a cumulative effect,” he said.

The only alternative to tents would be sending inmates to other county jails, but that is expensive. Brown’s office recently billed Amite County $32,000 for housing three inmates for a bit over a year.

Besides, other county jails are as full as his, he said.

“It’s not a good situation,” he said.