- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) - Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie is suggesting when the county gets around to building a new jail it should be at least double the capacity of the current lockup of 300 inmates.

“There are a number of counties around the state that have built jails well in excess of 500 beds, some close to 1,000 bed capacity. We know that crime is certainly escalating, be it in Meridian, Lauderdale County, the state of Mississippi or worldwide,” Sollie said.

“For us to not build what would seem to be more than what we need would be putting us into the same situation we are in today by not having enough space to adequately meet the needs of our justice system.”

The current jail opened in 1998 and has a capacity of having 50 more beds added, Sollie said.

The Meridian Star reports (https://bit.ly/1kDNsWb ) the board of supervisors has not yet made any decision on building a new jail or expanding the current one nor has it decided whether to build outside of the downtown area.

Other questions also remain, including what type of facility should be constructed and how large should it be.

County administrator Joe McCraney said funding options will vary, depending upon what type of facility is decided on.

Sollie said location is a major factor.

“While there is enough space to add on about 50 beds that would not provide us with much relief. The judges, both municipal and justice court, are very limited on confining misdemeanor violators,” Sollie said. “Of our 300 and something inmates that we are responsible for, 90 percent of them are here on felony charges.”

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Information from: The Meridian Star, https://www.meridianstar.com

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