GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Miss. (WCBI) — Overcrowded prisons. It’s a problem in Mississippi but now, counties are facing a new dilemma. The number of women in the state prison system is on the rise but most of jails aren’t female friendly.
It’s a scenario that Lee County jailers know all too well.
A prostitution sting meant the county had to make room for 13 women.
It’s all problem jails in the Golden Triangle are experiencing as well.
More and more women are finding themselves behind bars.
“For the past few years our jail has stayed at maximum capacity female inmates which we can hold up to 12 and it’s constantly full,” says Sheriff Eddie Scott.
The Clay County jail can house up to 120 inmates. Only 12 of those cells are female friendly. Sheriff Eddie Scott says that the rise of female prisoners at several jails, including his, are in a bind.
“We have to have a place for them when they commit a crime so even though it keeps us crowded we have to do it. Typically I’ll get calls from other counties wanting to know do I have room for females. So everybody is pretty much in the same shape as I am,” says Sheriff Scott.
“Time we will have overflow of females is going to be during our grand jury sessions. When indictment come out and I have to transport some to another county,” says James Vaughn.
Court records show that women in the Northeast Mississippi are playing larger roles in serious cases. So whether you are male or female, if you commit a crime, you will serve the time.
“The charges range from anywhere from petty larceny, bad checks to possession of illegal substance all the way up to murder,” says Vaughn.
Sheriff Scott says if the trend continues, adjustments will have to be made to detention centers across the state.
“Under new house bill 585 a lot of these charges that they are incarcerated on now will be misdemeanor or won’t be any jail time they are going to get probation time so it’s going kind of be a wait and see situations as far as our female and male population” says Sheriff Scott.
According to the Mississippi Department of corrections, the number of female inmates in Mississippi has increased by 1/3 since 2001.