Cutting Incarceration Costs

Meridian, Miss. Steps are being taken to further curb incarceration costs for the city of Meridian. First, there's the ankle bracelet initiative. As part of a trial effort Chief James Lee has informed the city council that city officials will start placing ankle bracelet monitors on some non-violent offenders. By doing this, officials with court collections for Meridian say that the city will pay $5.85 per day per ankle bracelet. That's compared to $22 per day per bracelet that the city is now paying Lauderdale County to do the same.

Mayor Percy Bland says making this change will help the city save a significant amount of money.

"You're talking about almost 200% or a 150% savings, and also it gives us another option, and an alternative rather than have guys go in and out of our jail systems."

In an effort to further curb costs, Mayor Bland says strides are also being made to open more than a half dozen holding cells that are located inside the Meridian Police Department.

"Because we have a freeze on right now we're not able to hire some of the jailers that we're going to need for that to begin, but we're working with them on that. We're close to that happening, and that's really what we also want to do. We want to use our own holding cells."

In all, there are seven holding cells at MPD; they can house anywhere from four to five people each. Once the cells are open Meridian officials project that the city's cost for housing inmates will drop from the $38 a day that the city currently pays Lauderdale County to house inmates.

As part of a contract that the City of Meridian has with Lauderdale County, a total of 25 beds at the Lauderdale County Detention Center are reserved for city inmates. In all, that jail has a capacity to to house 290 inmates.