Prisons in Crisis?

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Legislative leaders are promising to resolve the issue before their session ends in early May.

But a lawyer who watches Mississippi prisons says the situation is a disaster waiting to happen.

Ron Welch says, as of this week, there were 2,151 state inmates in county jails, and there were only 586 vacant beds in the state prison system.

The state pays $20 a day to house each inmate in county jails, and county supervisors rely on that money to balance their own budgets.

But lawmakers are struggling for the third straight year with a tight state budget.

House Corrections Committee Chairman Bennett Malone said he wants to reduce the state payments to counties to $15 per prisoner per day, starting Oct. 1.