Only 54% of the voters in Jackson County last week agreed to authorize the issuance of $22 million of general obligation bonds for a new jail. It needed 60% approval to pass.
Jackson County Board of Supervisors President John McKay told the Sun Herald newspaper that the board would look at other methods of financing the jail and might consider holding another referendum on the bond issue in a few months.
“The issue is not whether we’ll build a jail,” McKay said. “We’ve got to.”
The Board of Supervisors wanted to sell GOs to fund a 540-bed adult detention center that would replace a smaller facility built in 1979.
Controversy arose because Mississippi law requires that the county detention center be located in the county seat, which is Pascagoula. The Legislature previously refused to approve locating it elsewhere in the county.
The plan was for the new jail to be built near the existing facility. But opposition soared in the few months before the Nov. 4 election because the larger jail would be built in a prominent area of the city.
The original jail was designed to hold 79 prisoners and was remodeled twice to boost the total capacity to 279. It currently holds 440 inmates and supervisors claim it is a liability to the county.