Architect talks start for new jail

By REGINA BUTLER
Progress Staff Writer

A series of talks with prospective architects to design a new multi-million jail for Pontotoc County has started.
The supervisors are set to meet with two more architectural firms before putting out specifications for the jail facility.
Inmate population at the county jail has long exceeded capacity, and jail population is expected to more than triple in the next nine years.
The Pontotoc County Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Leo Mask recently met with architect Billy Winzel from Tunica, one of the architects vying for the design job.
“We have considerable corrections experience,” Winzel explained to the board. “We worked extensively at Parchman (the state penititiary). A lot of it isn’t photogenic, so you don’t take pictures of it.”
Winzel was the architect for the Pontotoc County Detention Center which houses the juvenile jail and the sheriff’s office.
“We have also done extensive work for the local city and county schools.”
Winzel did not present the board with any official plans for the Pontotoc County Jail.
“We want something plain,” said Dennis Corder, fifth district supervisor.
“We want to plan for the future,” said Phil Tutor, board attorney. “We want something expandable, that we can add on to later.”
Supervisors and Sheriff Mask have long sought answers to easing the crowding problems at the existing jail which has been in operation since the mid 1960’s.
“The state has been on us to do something about the jail,” said Sheriff Mask.
And while Mask has done much to clean up the jail by re-painting all the walls and keeping it in order, the space remains a problem.
“You can only fit so many people in the cells we have.”
In 10 years Pontotoc County is projected to have 2,837 prisoners to stay over night in jail compared to 772 as of last year.
Admissions in the jail are expected to jump from 1950 (the number admitted last year) to 6,825 in the year 2013. Admissions are those who are booked in, but never stay over night.
During 1999 the average daily population at the jail was four inmates, in 2003 it was 53.