City, county appear at odds over downtown holding facility
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - More than a year after local law enforcement officials announced plans to open it, a misdemeanor holding facility has still not opened in downtown Jackson.
Additional details emerged about the plans to open the facility at a Jackson City Council meeting on Friday.
However, the main question of when it will start taking misdemeanor offenders remains unanswered.
Meanwhile, city and county leaders appear to be at odds over when that could happen.
“I talked to my maintenance person on yesterday, and as far as the 55 beds that we have spoken to the city about... you can get started with the 55,” Hinds County District 3 Supervisor Credell Calhoun said. “They are ready to go right now.”
Jackson City Attorney Catoria Martin told the city council that’s not the case.
“For the last 12 months, I have been over there several times and in my visits each time, I do just like you do with a new house. I go in, I try the water, I flush the toilets. I’ve done all of that,” she said. “It’s not perfect I don’t expect it to be perfect. What we do expect, though, is that if we’re going to house human beings in that space, the water has to work.”
The city is currently seeking $2 million from the Legislature to continue renovations there.
“That money will come to the city, and I think part of the agreement is if we get that money, we will take ownership of that building,” she said.
Calhoun says he’s spoken to the lieutenant governor, and Jackson won’t get the money to fix the facility until they take ownership.
“Once the city gets it in their hand, they will be able to get funds from the state to complete the renovation,” he said. “And that’s 198 beds in the holding facility downtown.”
Jackson Police Chief James Davis is a longtime proponent of the holding facility, saying it’s needed to help address crime in the capital city.
JPD often has to release misdemeanor offenders on the scene because they’re unable to house them at the Hinds County Detention Center in Raymond.
The holding facility would be a place for offenders to “cool off” for 48 to 72 hours. The chief said previously by temporarily detaining those individuals, other crimes could be deterred.
JPD Cpt. George Jimerson told the council there were some flooding issues there recently due to the freezing weather. However, those problems have since been corrected.
“We did an extensive walkthrough... today. There were no leaks. The third floor appears ready for us to be occupying,” he told the council. “This is the problem, when a building sets up over a period of time, you know when the water’s not flushing or running through the pipes, it will cause leaks to occur. As you use it more and more, it will correct itself many times.”
“We’ll need some upgrades to it as we occupy that space,” he continued. “[But] the thing is now being able to get into that space, so we can... use it on a daily basis, so some of these problems that have occurred will correct themselves.”
Repairs will fall to the city once the building changes hands. “We’re going to lease the third floor and maintenance will be our responsibility,” Martin said. “So, if we cause issues on the third floor, we would be responsible for the costs. I want to make that very clear.”
Ward 6 Councilman Aaron Banks told the chief that he doesn’t want to get into a situation where the city would break JPD’s budget.
“I know that might cause some pause, but that’s just where we are now. We need to be very fiscally responsible,” he said. “And I don’t want us to take on something that’s going to end up costing us an additional $400,000 a year.”
“Right now, from what I hear, we know that there’s some things that need to be done, but we don’t know how much it’s going to cost us, and that, to me, becomes problematic.”
Council President Ashby Foote, though, said there’s also a cost for not moving forward, “which is borne by the citizens because the city is not as safe as it otherwise would be... We can’t forget that in our discussion.”
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