Steps toward new jail, though tiny ones, good news

Published 2:01 pm Thursday, March 7, 2024

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The Adams County Board of Supervisors took two steps at its meeting on Monday that could lead eventually to a new jail here.

Our county needs a new jail, without a doubt. Without beating a dead horse, the current jail isn’t fit for staff or inmates, and throwing tons of money at the current jail building will not make it so. Few with any knowledge of the situation would argue that fact.

The county’s current contract with Concordia Parish to house inmates is a stopgap measure at best. It certainly is not a long-term solution.

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We salute Debbie Germany, who has stepped forward and volunteered her considerable talents to lead the new Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee. Germany has made much progress in just a couple of months, namely, securing a donation of 30-plus acres of land on U.S. 61 north of Natchez from a business on which a jail or law enforcement complex could be located.

The county board authorized its attorney to work with the business and secure the donation.

Further, Germany asked supervisors to enter into a letter of intent with David Marsh of Benchmark Construction Corp. for professional services related to the design and construction of a jail.

As Germany pointed out, for a number of years, county officials have turned to Marsh, who has built more jail facilities in Mississippi than any other company, to advise it a new jail. Marsh has completed a feasibility study and has the basic plans for a jail complete — all without ever having charged the county.

Mississippi laws do not require the supervisors to seek bids on professional services. It’s only right if the county moves forward with constructing a jail, Marsh and Benchmark should be involved in the project.

We hope these moves — and Germany’s good leadership and work to connect all parties involved — lead to a new county jail. At the same time, we hope any plans for a new jail will include all that we will need it to for the future — offices for the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, the Natchez Police Department, maybe a new fire station. It should include offices for Justice Court and perhaps even a Circuit Court courtroom. And in addition to a jail facility for inmates, it should include space for those with mental health issues.

We need a new jail now, but we need to make certain it is one that is going to serve the needs of all of Adams County, which includes residents of the City of Natchez.