Video: Sheriff Says New Jail For Itawamba County Long Overdue

FULTON, MISS. (WCBI) – Even as he campaigned for his first term eight and a half years ago, Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson heard a lot about the need for a new jail.

“Once I got in here and realized it, the facility and people who run the facility they are doing the very best they can, and we run a good operation, a tight operation, the problem is we just don’t have enough space,” Sheriff Dickinson said.

It is an issue Jail Administrator Vicky Russell deals with everyday.  She is able to make room for 44 inmates.  However, Itawamba usually has 65 to 70 inmates everyday. New state sentencing guidelines also cause a backlog of inmates, and the jail is dated.  The oldest part of this facility was built in 1947 and still houses inmates.

Russell says the age of the facility makes cleaning and upkeep a huge challenge.

“You can clean but you can’t clean, because you can’t sanitize everything here because everything is wore out.  It’s duck taped and super glued together and that only lasts us for so long,” Russell said.

The sheriff says a new jail does not have to be a burden on taxpayers, he points out every month, about 20 to 25 inmates are sent to Tishomingo County because there’s not enough room at the Itawamba County jail. That costs a lot of money, funds the sheriff says would go a long way toward paying for a new jail.

“We are spending $180,000 to $200,000 a year in housing inmates in other facilities.  When you talk about that kind of money, that could be something we could build equity in as far as building a jail,” Dickinson said.

Sheriff Dickinson says a parcel of county owned property, right off of the access road, would be an ideal site for a 100 bed jail.   Supervisors are expected to discuss the issue during their next meeting.

Supervisors are expected to look for an architect to work on preliminary plans for a new jail.

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