Harrison County Regains Control of Jail

For the last 20 years, the Department of Justice has provided federal oversight of the Harrison County Jail. Today, those chains were finally broken as the Department of Justice issued an order of final dismissal of its case against the jail.
The Harrison County Jail is now being run according to U.S Department of Justice standards and no longer needs federal supervision. The regained independence is music to the ears of Harrison County Sheriff Melvin Brisolara, who spent his entire term getting the jail up to par. “It’s been 20 years in the making. When I took office in ’08, the board, we sat down and said we have to come to an end with this. We did it, but it took us sitting together at the table, working with one another to get this resolved.”
When the Department of Justice took control of the jail in 1995 there was a laundry list of problems. “Overcrowding was a major, major issue,” said Brisolara, “Under-staffing was an issue. Training was another issue. Civil Rights violations that were being done in there, but you know, we accomplished and worked through that over the years.”
To work through all of these problems, the county was forced to have quarterly meetings with the Department of Justice and spend millions of dollars to meet their standards.
Another major plus is that the county no longer has to foot the bills to bring its deficiencies up to code. Board Attorney Tim Holleman said, “Well first off, we’ll be able to stop spending money to comply with the different Justice Department requests. We’ll stop spending attorney fees dealing with a lawsuit that both Mr. Meadows and I have dealt with since 1995.”
Fortunately, the problems have been fixed without burdening taxpayers. Harrison County District 3 Supervisor Marlin Ladner said, “We’ve been able to do this without a tax increase. And we spent a lot of money on that jail. Approximately, as I said, over $16 million in bonds that we’ve spent, but have not raised taxes in doing it.”
Now that the county has regained control of the jail, a work center, which is ran by the sheriff’s department, will be reopened. The sheriff says inmates housed there will do the electrical, plumbing and other different types of work around the county for free, saving taxpayers hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars.
Sheriff Brisolara said, “Whenever the Justice Department is willing to walk away from you, and give you control back, you have accomplished a lot. And we really want to let the community know that we have improved the jail in Harrison County.”

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