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Supervisors want trusties to get back to work

Several members of the Pearl River County Supervisors are pushing for trusties held at the county jail to be allowed to go back to work again. Trusties have been kept inside the facility since mid-March to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the jail.

At their regular meeting Wednesday, Board members discussed when the county would be allowed to use inmates in the county jail for county work again. The county relies on inmates for a variety of work, including cleaning the County Courthouse.

District V Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith said the county houses Mississippi Department of Corrections inmates with the understanding that the trusties will do work for the county and as such is not reimbursed for housing the state inmates.

“We’re responsible for them anyway, so why can’t we make the decision on whether they go out to work?” said District II Supervisor Malcolm Perry.

District III Supervisor Hudson Holliday suggested the county call MDOC and request an exception to allow the inmates to resume their work responsibilities outside of the jail.

In mid-March, representatives with MDOC directed the Sheriff’s Department not to allow state inmates to work outside of the facility to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 within the jail, according to previous coverage.

County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said that MDOC has the final decision on when the trusties will be able to leave the jail for work again.

The Board discussed contacting MDOC to see if the inmates could be allowed in public to work again. Smith said officials from other counties have also asked when inmates will be allowed out of jails to work again during conference calls with the Governor.

In a separate matter, Emergency Management Director Danny Manley told the Board that a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in Pearl River County is tentatively planned for May 28. The Mississippi State Department of Health has not released information on any new drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites planned for Pearl River County yet. The last drive-thru COVID-19 testing opportunity in the county was offered in early April, according to previous coverage. Only 53 people got tested at that site, Manley said.

The Board entered executive session to discuss tax sale litigation and personnel matters.

In other business the Board:

—Approved paying $210,401 to Pearl River Paving Co., LLC, for an ERBR project on McNeill McHenry Road.

The next Board meeting will be Monday, June 1 at 9 a.m. in the Pearl River County Board room.