Rankin County jail to be expanded, new courthouse being built

RANKIN COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) — Thanks to a multi-million dollar bond, the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department is adding on to the jail.

Some people who live near the jail aren’t happy about the expansion, but the sheriff says it’s critical.

“The last thing I ever want to do is not be able to lock somebody up and jeopardize the safety of the county,” said Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said. “I would hate to have to turn an inmate away.”

The Rankin County jail is quickly running out of space to house inmates. Bailey says the jail is already housing 480 to 490 inmates every day and they only have 500 beds.

Bailey says population growth within the county has been both a blessing and a curse, bringing in more businesses and the criminals who take advantage of that.

“When you have the retail and the good local economy like we have, the crime is going to follow it, so we have more crime shoplifting and things like that,” Bailey explained.

But not everyone sees the expansion as a positive. Neighbors on Emerald Street say the new facility is too close for comfort.

“I do not like the jail extension here at the front door I think that they should have some type of wall or shield if they’re going to do it,” one neighbor said.

“I feel like we’ve been stepped over,” James Sims added.

Neighbors say they already have issues with some of the inmates yelling and making comments at them.

“We just have to have somewhere to lock people up, and I understand their concerns but you know we’ve never had an escape since I’ve been sheriff,” Sheriff Bailey said.

Bailey says the minimum-security facility will be added on to the existing jail and will only house misdemeanor offenders and trustees.

“I want all the people in Rankin County to know, especially the ones right here behind us to know we have the nicest cleanest safest jail in the state of Mississippi,” He said.

The jail extension is a part of a $25 million bond approved to build a new courthouse. The new courthouse will be built at the corner of North and Tamberline Street across from the jail.

The courthouse will cost about $19 million to build, and the jail will take about $3 million.

Sheriff Bailey says they are using the dirt from the courthouse construction for the jail’s field dirt which is cheaper.

This is about an 18-month project.

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