Community town hall meeting about Adams County Jail conditions is Friday at the Safe Room

Published 2:47 pm Monday, October 17, 2022

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NATCHEZ — The National Institute of Corrections is coming to Natchez this week to analyze the condition of the Adams County Jail, the number of inmates and the overall condition of Adams County’s Justice System.

They will report their findings during a community Town Hall meeting, which is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 11:30 on Friday, Oct. 21, at the Adams County Safe Room on Liberty Road.

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten announced the upcoming Town Hall meeting during a Monday meeting of the Adams County Board of Supervisors.

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NIC officials will be arriving in Natchez Tuesday and conducting a free study and report their findings at the end of the week, he said.

For years, officials have been discussing the substandard condition of the jail. Supervisors have recently been considering a contract with Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office to use their jail facilities.

While building a new jail is an expensive option, it may or may not be the best one for Adams County. The purpose of this study is to guide leaders in their decision-making with a holistic approach, said Karen Albert, who serves as a technical resource provider and instructor of the NIC. Albert said the NIC is “tax-dollar funded with no additional cost to the jurisdiction,” so it adds no additional financial burden to Adams County.

“The long-term cost of staff is greater than the cost of a facility,” she said. “The community needs to be a part of the decision-making.”

She added 98 percent of those who are incarcerated in Adams County will return to the community at some point, making what happens to them while they’re incarcerated extremely important.

“We can do nothing or we can have programs in place that help with their reentry,” she said.

The NIC aims to guide leaders so they can know the consequences of each decision, “from doing nothing to building a new jail,” Albert said.

“Our goal is to get all of the criminal justice stakeholders involved,” she said. “The sheriff has no control over who comes into and out of the jail,” which makes jail overcrowding an issue.

While the jail is the most expensive part of the criminal justice system, the NIC will be looking at the county’s entire criminal justice system for potential solutions to the problems it’s facing.

“All of this will culminate into that town hall meeting where we will discuss our findings,” Albert said. “More information is needed to make thoughtful and informed decisions but we’ll help guide you in what those steps should be.”