Counties Told State Can't Pay for Housing Inmates

By: Lindsey Brown Email
By: Lindsey Brown Email

Lauderdale County and other counties in Mississippi use state inmates to do work for various government offices. The state has been paying counties a daily fee to house those inmate workers.

But Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps has told counties the state can't continue to pay, because it doesn't have the money.

Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie and other sheriffs will meet with Epps next Tuesday at the Law Enforcement training Academy at Pearl to discuss the situation.

Sollie says it's likely that counties will have the choice of keeping the workers without reimbursement, or sending the inmates to state facilities and losing them as labor.

Trusties are used in diverse ways, such as sweeping streets and delivering mail in county offices.

"We use them every day and that is a big plus," said circuit clerk Donna Jill Johnson.

Sollie says the current county budget included a projected income of $700,000 for housing state inmates. So far, $200,000 has been paid to Lauderdale County.

If the state stops future payments, it would mean $500,000 lost from the county budget this fiscal year.

Sollie says the question of what to do with the state inmates now is up to the county supervisors. He says they will have to decide what the inmate labor is worth.

"Right now, the state legislature has some tough decisions to make, education, corrections. Glad I'm not a legislator," said Sollie.

Over 800 state prisoners are placed in county jails currently. Around 20 of them are in Lauderdale County.

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