Jail Overcrowding Update

It could be next year before Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie finds out if he gets something that's almost topping his wish list, a new jail.
That's because the Board of Supervisors has given a group of concerned citizens six months to come up with a proposal for a plan of action that will address the jail overcrowding issue.

In the meantime, Sheriff Sollie says other efforts are being made to address the jail's immediate housing needs.

"If we have an individual who is charged with a felony offense, we work with the justice court judges to try to get them out of jail if they have a very serious medical issue to reduce the burden on the local taxpayers," says Sollie.

Although policies are in place which often allow inmates who suffer from terminal illnesses to be released from custody, both local and state officials say taking that action comes with challenges.

"Often times the persons are repeat offenders and they don't qualify for bond. So, we have that option taken off the table," says Sollie.

"Unfortunately, so often because of HIPAA and some other federal laws, so many times the citizens are not made aware of why someone is being released early for medical reasons, and so, there's always a question there," says Representative Greg Snowden who represents District 83 in the Mississippi House of Representatives. "Naturally there's a lot of frustration there particularly with people back in the community that suffered and have been victims of a crime that maybe this individual has committed."

All trustee offenders in Lauderdale County are housed at the Hilltop House in Meridian, any additional inmates are housed at the Kemper/ Neshoba Regional Correctional Facility in DeKalb.

With a capacity to house 290 people, 262 Lauderdale County inmates were being housed at the jail in downtown Meridian Tuesday morning. In addition, 27 inmates were being housed at Hilltop House, and 8 were in Kemper County.