- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - Harrison County Sheriff Melvin Brisolara said his office has been successful enough in its efforts to reduce its jail population that it can halt a house-arrest program it’s been using.

The Sun Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1M6soHL ) Brisolara asked the county Monday to cancel its contract with Sentinal Offender Services, the company it has been using to monitor certain nonviolent offenders who had been arrested.

The move could save about $150,000 a year in salaries for employees associated with the program. The program’s cost varied based on the number of participants and was assessed to the inmates.

Reducing the jail population was one requirement of a U.S. Department of Justice decree the jail has been under since 1998.

In 2008, when Brisolara took office, the jail population averaged 1,100 inmates, he said. The Justice Department wanted a count closer to 760.

The house-arrest program was developed in 2009 as an alternative in jail for some.

This year, the jail has been averaging 550 inmates.

“We have plenty of room to handle that by ourselves,” Brisolara said.

Brisolara said the agency has been working to bring down numbers and comply with other requirements under the Justice Department decree, which he hopes to soon get out from under.

“We’ve been working to educate people on who needs to be locked up. That’s not everyone,” he said Monday. “Re-educating all of law enforcement has really made a big difference.”

Fewer jail inmates has also means cost savings.

“Drop the population by 500,” he said, “that’s a heck of a savings.”

___

Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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