Federal Inmates

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sheriff: federal inmates coming next few weeks

By Billy Davis

A first batch of federal prisoners should be arriving at the David M. Bryan Justice Complex within the next few weeks, interim Sheriff Otis Griffin said Monday.

Griffin, who is pitted in an aggressive race for sheriff against Dennis Darby, made the announcement to the Panola County Board of Supervisors.

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Griffin has said bringing the prisoners to Panola County is a priority, since the federal inmates would fill a multi-million dollar jail addition that is presently sitting unused.

Darby, who has questioned why the jail addition is empty, has said he supports filling the jail with the federal inmates.

Panola County government would also be reimbursed for housing the federal prisoners, similar to the state inmates who earn the county $20 daily from the Miss. Department of Corrections.

The U.S. Marshals Office oversees federal prisoners and is negotiating their transfer with the sheriff’s department.

Griffin, who spoke briefly about the federal prisoners, told supervisors Panola County would earn $58 daily from each federal inmate.

He later told The Panolian that the sheriff’s department had requested $65 per prisoner per day, but the federal agency had denied that request. Instead, the county is set to earn $35.07 per prisoner per day, a current “national rate,” the interim sheriff said.

From 20 to 25 federal inmates are expected at first, giving jail personnel time to adjust to the increased population. As many as 100 federal prisoners could be housed over time, he said.

Griffin further explained that Panola County will also be reimbursed for two transport officers who are assigned to guard the federal prisoners. The U.S. Marshals Office will pay $14.06 per hour per guard, a total hourly reimbursement of $28.08.

“We will have two guards per prisoner at all times (while they’re being transported). That’s required,” the interim sheriff said.

Sheriff’s administrative assistant Robbie Haley further clarified that Panola County will only be reimbursed for the guards’ time if a federal prisoner is transported outside the jail, such as to a court hearing or a doctor’s visit.

Griffin said he plans to utilize a deputy to serve as a transportation officer. A second guard will be hired, he said.

The interim sheriff said a full-time secretary will be employed to oversee the paperwork expected to follow the federal prisoners. That hiring will likely happen within the department, he said.