In lieu of building its own youth detention center, Madison County has entered into an interlocal agreement with Warren County.


The Madison County Board of Supervisors on Monday entered into the agreement, which allows Madison’s juvenile offenders to be housed in Warren County for $125 per day.


Madison County Administrator Shelton Vance said the agreement codifies a verbal agreement that was already in place with the Warren County Sheriff's Department.


Under the agreement, the Madison County is responsible for transportation to and from the Vicksburg facility, as well as all travel to and from doctor appointments and court hearings for inmates from Madison.


The county previously sent juvenile offenders to the Rankin County Juvenile Detention Center in Pelahatchie, but Rankin last year increased its fee to $350 per day per inmate. That prompted Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker, in August of last year, to present the board with a cost assessment on building an independent facility capable of housing offenders in Canton.


Tucker estimated at that time it would cost roughly $5 million to build a 30-bed juvenile detention center and approximately $750,000 annually to operate it. The cost of continuing to send youth inmates to Rankin County after the per-day price hike was around $500,000 annually.


Tucker, who has served as Madison County’s Sheriff since 2011, has long been opposed to building such a facility.


“There’s a statutory requirement that we either have our own facility or an agreement in place so we have somewhere to send these juveniles,” Tucker said in August when presenting cost estimates for a new jail. “I have never wanted to build (a juvenile detention center), because I would have to run it and there are all kinds of considerations and hurdles we would have to overcome.”

County Judge Staci O’Neal, who appeared at that August meeting with Tucker, warned the Board of Supervisors that outsourcing the incarceration of youth offenders leaves the courts at the mercy of other county’s ability to house their inmates.


“At the end of the day, it’s about how many beds we have available,” O’Neal said. “If I get a call at 3 a.m. that they’ve arrested a juvenile who was burglarizing homes, I’ve got to have somewhere to put them or I’ve got to release them to their parents.”


In other action, the board:


• Approved a contract with Mogadore, Ohio-based Omega Labs for drug testing services for the county drug court.


• Refunded $76,774.20 in State Aid funds that was unused following completion of the Sharon Road Bridge Project.


• Proclaimed the March 10 storm that felled thousands of trees across the county a local emergency and passed a motion that will pay road crews overtime for 30 days following the proclamation of an emergency.


• Approved expenditures for the purchase of four handheld radios and one mobile radio for the Camden Volunteer Fire Department at a price not to exceed $10,000.