Lauderdale County, Mississippi Overcrowding at one local jail is expected to get worse in the coming weeks.
300+ is the number of inmates Lauderdale County authorities are currently responsible for. That's according to Sheriff Billy Sollie, who says 30 of those inmates are being housed at Hilltop on Highway 39. Another 17 are behind bars in Kemper County. At the county jail in downtown Meridian, Sollie tells Newscenter 11 that 166 of the inmates are felons.
"So right now, over two thirds of our population are inmates who are here, waiting for a trail date," Sollie says.
Sheriff Sollie says while overcrowding at the Lauderdale County Detention Facility is not a serious issue at the moment, he says that could quickly change. That's because the Lauderdale Grand Jury is set to begin at the courthouse on Monday.
"Having talked with the District Attorney's office, they are anticipating next week being a huge week as far as indictments," he points out. "Over 200 cases to be presented to the grand jury."
Sollie says when overcrowding becomes an issue, it results in extra fees the county has to pay on the inmate. He says it also makes it tough to maintain the facility when it nears capacity because inmates can't be transferred within the jail.
"We also have to remember that every inmate has to be classified and segregated based upon the gang affiliation of any enemies they may or may not have in our facility," Sollie adds.
Long term, the sheriff says there is only solution he see fit to solve this ongoing problem and that's a new detention facility. He tells us that would also keep Lauderdale County from having to rely on Kemper County.