A strong disagreement is brewing between Bill Rasco, Desoto County, MS Sheriff and Greg Davis, City of Southaven mayor on the topic of what to do with Desoto County’s non-violent offenders. Jail them?? Or give them House Arrest??
According to Bill Rasco, the county jail is extremely overcrowded (The jail capacity is 395 prisoners. For the last month, the jail has averaged more than 430 prisoners) with prisoners being held for non-violent, misdemeanor offenses. As a result, jail officials claim that they cannot adequately care for the inmates and the tax payers are being forced to bear the financial burden of having to house these individuals at a daily rate of approximately $20.00.
Thinking outside of the box, Rasco has recommended housing only the violent criminals, and issuing ankle bracelets used for house arrest to those serving a sentence for non-violent offenses such as shoplifting, DUI, disorderly conduct, public drunk, and other less serious traffic offenses. The daily cost of the ankle bracelets is about half and paying for them will be the responsibility of the person serving the sentence as opposed to the tax payer. Good idea????
Not according to Southaven city mayor Greg Davis. Why not? Davis says that he must insist that non-violent offenders be put in jail no matter what the cost. He claims that this is to protect the greater public and to uphold the decisions of the municipal court judges.
While Mayor Davis and the City of Southaven have done a commendable job of deterring crime and are notorious for being “tough on criminals”, it would appear that the City’s stance against granting house arrest may be more of a political response than one based upon sound logic. If the reason were truly safety of the citizens of Desoto County, shouldn’t we first insure that there is adequate room in the jail to lock up the VIOLENT offenders? Don’t we want to make sure that there are adequate numbers of jail officials to actually guard the VIOLENT offenders?
I see only two options:
(1) Pick the most dangerous criminals, lock them up, and put the non-violent criminals on house arrest, while allowing them to work, earn money, and actually pay the full restitution for their crimes. This insures that not only are tax payers not burdened by the cost of their incarceration, but also that full restitution is actually paid. The public is no more unsafe, as these individuals are non-violent offenders.
(2) Raise taxes on the citizens, build a jail big enough to house all of Desoto County (if needed), and hold people in jail until they can pay restitution (a/k/a “debtor’s prison”)–while keeping in mind that most, if not all of those individuals that once had paying jobs will be fired when they do not report to work because they are in jail. This will shift the burden of payment to the tax payer and only further weaken the local economy.
As a tax paying citizen of this County, I vote strongly for Option No: 1.