By NATHAN GREGORY
The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors and the Starkville Board of Aldermen officially agreed to a contract which will create an extra eight bed spaces at the county jail for people arrested by the Starkville Police Department.
SPD previously had an agreement with Clay County Jail to house 15 of its inmates. SPD’s agreement with Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office whittles that number to seven.
SPD Chief David Lindley said the new spaces in the county jail will be designated for short-term prisoners, while the remaining spaces in CCJ will be for those serving substantial time.
“We were able to work with (OCSO Sheriff Steve) Gladney, and he has agreed to accommodate us where we can have eight beds guaranteed each night, which will save us a considerable amount of time and money in regard to fuel, transport costs and convenience over time,” he said. “(This) should cut our transport trips down considerably, and we don’t have to pull people in on overtime to cover short shifts while somebody is in transport.”
Lindley said SPD recently has been responsible for transporting prisoners to Clay County due to the end of its contract with North Atlantic Extradition Service last year. This, he said, was taking patrolmen off the streets and causing shifts to be short on manpower.
“If you look at a round trip to West Point, by the time you get over there, pick the prisoner up and get them back here, it’s about an hour or more off patrol. That usually causes the shift to be short, so it’s really been problematic,” Lindley said. “We didn’t have this problem when were using (NAES), but we no longer have the contract ... so it fell back on us and that’s caused difficulties in the last few months.”
OCSO will charge SPD $30 a night for each bed space while Clay County will charge $35 for each of its beds. The costs cover meals, uniforms, guard services and monitoring along with the beds themselves.
SPD will cover any medical costs for inmates, Lindley said.
“If it’s a city prisoner, the city is responsible for any cost outside of your beds and your meals,” Lindley said. “Any additional costs, like medical, have always been taken care of by the agency responsible for the individual until such time as they’re bound over in lower court to await the action of the grand jury. Then they become a county prisoner. If it’s a true city prisoner awaiting city court, we have to pick up any expenses other than what’s covered in the basic housing agreement.”
Gladney said he believes the contract is beneficial in terms of keeping more money in Starkville and Oktibbeha County.
“I think it’s a good situation for the county and city. Now (SPD doesn’t) have to carry prisoners down to Clay County, and they’re guaranteeing us money to house them, so I think it’s a good deal for both Chief Lindley and myself. It will certainly save money on fuel costs,” Gladney said. “If I’ve got room, why shouldn’t we keep them? I wanted to try to help if I could, and we were able to work this out.”
OCJ administrator Jimmy Vaughan said the agreement is practical not only from a taxpayer standpoint but also because the jail has the spaces open for use.
“(In) part of our old jail for county inmates, there was a segment there that was not highly utilized, so we’ll dedicate one section to people who are trustees (non-violent offenders) and another block for non-trustees; that way, we can keep the city prisoners together in one cell block,” he said. “(We will) dedicate a cell to the city (prisoners) on the main floor. If there are females in those eight beds, we’ll utilize beds we have on the female side (of the jail).”
If all the spaces in OCJ and CCJ are occupied, Lindley said, there are alternative options.
“There is a possibility (OCJ) could have additional space depending on what their inmate population is at the time. We will house (prisoners) there if we can, but we’ll also use Clay County as a backup because they have a larger facility,” he said. “We try hard to stay within the 15 allotted positions as best we can. That will fluctuate depending on the number of arrests.”
Lindley said the idea originated from a conversation he and Gladney had last year when Gladney was working in Starkville City Court as a bailiff.
“He saw we were having quite a bit of trouble with logistics, and when he decided to run for sheriff, he and I talked about this being one of the things I would like to see get resolved,” Lindley said. “He worked with us on it, and we are really appreciative of it.”