MOUNT VERNON, Mo.- Lawrence County voters approved the sales tax to fund a new jail on Tuesday, November 2nd’s municipal election.

The Sheriff was asking voters to fund a new jail facility in Mount Vernon. If approved, a 3/8th-cent sales tax would put the sheriff, deputies, and inmates under one roof for the first time in at least 30 years. Sheriff Brad Delay says the county expects to spend $500,000 dollars this year solely on housing inmates in other counties.  

He says the current jail, built-in 1986 can currently house 52 inmates but lacks the capacity to be able to hold multiple inmates charged in the same case.  

Delay says it’s become an expensive and unsafe piece of property, citing instances of jail staff being attacked due to the jail’s outdated design. 

“It really is a design issue more than anything,” says Sheriff Brad Delay. “If a jailer walks straight down the middle of that hallway, they still aren’t safe from inmates if they were to both come out on the sides, of being grabbed or attacked. Unfortunately, we have had some of those instances where jailers have been attacked. That’s something we obviously don’t want to happen. We want to protect everybody.” 

He says the current jail also isn’t suited to hold multiple inmates under different criminal classifications. 

“Based on their crimes, you can’t always fill all those beds because you can’t a potential murderer or accused murderer with someone who stole a candy bar from Walmart., so you can’t always fill those beds 100%. Because of that, we have right now probably 30 to 33 inmates in our jail that are supposed to hold 52.” 

Sheriff Delay and the Lawrence County Commission say the money would be better spent on making payments to an all-new facility.