TUPELO, Miss. — The future of a Mississippi jail that had been severely overcrowded will be planned when officials meet next month.

Officials are set to meet Nov. 1 after they broke into three groups to gather more information, Lee County Board of Supervisors president Phil Morgan said.

Officials had split up after the Board voted Aug. 21 to abandon a prior proposal to build a new 500-bed jail that was estimated to cost $50 million, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported Tuesday.

Lee County Jail was built two decades ago and designed to hold 200 inmates, but through most of summer it housed nearly 250. However, its daily number of inmates has averaged around 175 the last two weeks.

Reducing the population by about 70 inmates has improved the working environment and made the jail safer, Sheriff Jim Johnson said.

The vote forced him “to make drastic changes,” Johnson said. He began limiting the number of new inmates and releasing non-violent ones with no money required for bail.

The next step after decreasing the jail’s population was not accepting municipal inmates unless there’s room Johnson said. He’s also considering raising the daily rate charged to municipalities for holding inmates.

Over the last two years, reports from 10 grand jury tours found the jail also needs repairs and lacks office space.

Johnson and an architect will look at renovation costs for the existing facility Morgan said. Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton is supposed to meet with other mayors about reducing the number of incoming inmates Morgan said.

There is no timetable for working out the jail’s issues.


Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com