Hilltop House Future in Question

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Lauderdale County, Miss. There are concerns that a Lauderdale County facility that houses non-violent offenders could be closed in the near future.

23 inmates are currently being housed at Hilltop House, according to Sheriff Billy Sollie. While Sollie says the capacity at Hilltop is actually 35 prisoners, it could still be closed because the county jail in downtown Meridian currently has 300 inmates, which is over its limit of 290.

"As of today, we have 35 persons who have plead guilty or been found guilty and are waiting for their paperwork to be cleared in Jackson by MDOC to be moved out," Sollie explains.

In the meantime, the county is responsible for 335 total inmates. The 300 at the county jail, 23 at Hilltop, and 12 in Kemper County. As for Hilltop, the sheriff says the non-violent offenders there would be sent to other MDOC facilities in the state.

"You know, we are going to do our best, working with the court system, working with the city of Meridian to reduce our population," Sollie says. "But again, the citizens want to be protected and placing persons in our facility is what it means to protect them."

Sollie says should Ron Welch, the attorney advocate for the state of Mississippi, decide to close Hilltop, that would mean the $20 a day the county receives for each inmate would would be lost. The daily inmate labor for Lauderdale County would also be lost.