Grand Jury report includes recommendation for new Adams County Jail

Published 1:44 pm Friday, June 14, 2024

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NATCHEZ — It has long been officials’ belief that the Adams County Jail is unfit for housing inmates and an Adams County Grand Jury agrees.

The Adams County Grand Jury serving the May 2024 term returned a report to Circuit Court Judge Debra Blackwell on May 3 that included a recommendation to build a new jail.

The Grand Jury after being sworn in Jan. 29, during a two-day session, investigated 65 cases, examined 65 witnesses, returned 24 true bills, 24 no bills, returned one case to a lower court and continued 16 cases.

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Specifics on each case is secret unless they advance to Circuit Court, as are all Grand Jury proceedings. After an inspection of public properties, the Grand Jury made the following suggestion:

“Adams County needs a new jail. Our inspection yielded the following: Mold, mold, mold; lack of space; horrible smell; (air conditioning) problems; flooding; lack of restrooms; boiler room unsafe; no sprinkler system in building; 911 dispatcher room was nasty; kitchen is unsanitary from flooding; cellblocks are deplorable; electricity in reach with no cages; blind spots from cameras; dehumidifiers are broken; padded cells not adequate for mental health detention. It is the Grand Jury’s opinion that the jail is unsafe and unfit.”

The Grand Jury also found that “the Tax Assessor/Collector’s business is being conducted adequately,” the report stated.

For over a year, the county has been contracting with Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office to house inmates in the nearby parish.

Officials have complained of problems in the dated Adams County Jail for over two decades—including ones that the Grand Jury pointed out—such as inadequate security camera coverage, flooding, mold, nonfunctioning locks on cells, and a prison yard for outdoor breaks and emergency evacuation of inmates.

Debbie Germany, who leads a committee exploring options to build a new facility, asked the county board of supervisors earlier this month for $50,000 to fund a survey and environmental tests on 30 acres of land that a private company has offered to donate to a new jail complex and estimating the cost of building that complex.

To date, supervisors have not allotted any money to a new jail or taken any action on Germany’s request. How they would pay for a new jail remains the overriding question that none have an answer to.