Lee County Board of Supervisors to review new jail proposal

The Lee County Board of Supervisors are reviewing a new proposal to renovate the Lee County Jail.

Posted: Nov 7, 2017 11:18 PM
Updated: Nov 7, 2017 11:26 PM

TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - The Lee County Board of Supervisors is reviewing a new proposal to renovate the Lee County jail.

The new proposal was presented by Lee County Supervisor Phil Morgan. It suggests $8 million to renovate the jail instead of the $51 million proposal to build a new jail that was rejected by the board back in August.

"Some say it’s a bandaid on a problem," said Morgan. "We’re addressing the immediate need, which is we don’t have enough holding cells."

Morgan says the $8 million would add 100 beds, a morgue and renovations to the current space such as a medical unit for mentally ill inmates. 

"I don’t support tax increases, but sometimes with public safety, you have to do that. If you have a tax increase, I'd much rather an $8-$10 a year tax increase per $100,000 house than a $300-$500 a year tax increase," added Morgan.

The proposed lower cost to taxpayers has some residents on board.

"I thought that was a bit much. We do need somewhere to house the criminals as crime is increasing everywhere, including Tupelo," said Jennifer Lindsey, a Lee County resident. "However, that amount seemed a bit exorbitant. The new proposal ... translating to around $10 [a year in taxes] is a bit more reasonable."

Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson compared the proposal to plugging a dry-rotted tire. The sheriff says the jail needs new locks, has leaking and could use an upgraded security system.

Sheriff Johnson has been releasing nonviolent criminals to make room in the jail.

"You may add 100 beds, you may allow us to hold 100 more people," said Sheriff Johnson. "But you still have all the problems that have gone wrong with the old facility. You’re just putting a new part on the old part."

The vote is scheduled for November 20. If it is approved, the renovations are expected to be completed by April 2019.

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