Jail Agreement Scrutinized

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If a person is arrested by a Meridian police officer, charged with a crime and taken to the county jail, it costs the city $20 a day to keep him there.

If that same person is arrested at the same spot by a sheriff's deputy and taken to county jail, it costs the city nothing.

Ward 1 Councilman, Dr. George Thomas, objected.

"There should be no question, if you're arrested in Lauderdale County, you ought to go to the Lauderdale County Jail," Thomas said. "I have no problem with that. But the fact that the city residents pay extra money to have extra police protection and then are penalized because they're arrested by city police as opposed to the sheriff's deputies, is wrong. We are residents. We pay full taxes to Lauderdale County and now we've been penalized because we live in the city that we have to pay to put them in the county jail."

Mayor John Robert Smith said he agrees, based on the taxes city residents pay the county.

"We're paying what, 56, 58 percent of every part of that function from the sheriff to the deputies to the meals to the power to run the facility, every facet of the incarceration," said Smith. "Then we turn around and pay a fee to keep them there."

But council members said they felt they had no choice and approved the agreement for another year.