By Bobby Harrison

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON - Legislation has been sent to Gov. Haley Barbour to authorize regional prison in Alcorn County, but no money was appropriated for it this year.

Regional prisons will have to be built in Chickasaw and Yazoo counties before one is built in Alcorn. That timetable is uncertain.

"What you do is try to get in line," said Senate President Pro Tem Travis Little, R-Corinth, "We have done that."

Little said the commissioner of the Department of Corrections says the state is going to need more prison beds. "As we can afford it, those prisons will be built," he added.

Rep. Harvey Moss, D-Corinth, agreed. "This puts us in the ballgame," he said.

Regional prisons essentially are partnerships between the state and local counties in which the state builds the prison on land provided by the counties. The facilities usually house up to 250 state inmates. They also often serve as the county jail. The state pays the county about $30 per day to house the inmates sentenced to the custody of the Department of Corrections.

"We are desperate for jobs in Chickasaw County," said Rep. Preston Sullivan, D-Okolona. "We need more diversified industry and certainly that would be different."

Each regional prison usually employs about 200 people.

This year the Legislature authorized new regional prisons not only in Alcorn, but in Hinds and Washington counties.

But under the legislation, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jack Gordon, D-Okolona, said that before those prisons could be constructed, facilities in Chickasaw and Yazoo counties must be built. They were approved by earlier sessions of the Legislature.

Gordon said a designated amount of money was not placed in the Department of Corrections budget for the Chickasaw and Yazoo prisons this year, but he has hope that in coming years funds will be available.

Contact Daily Journal Jackson Bureau reporter Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or bobby.harrison@djournal.com.

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