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Mississippi Department of Corrections contracts with private prison company to house Parchman inmates

(MISSISSIPPI DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS NEWS RELEASE) – Moving some inmates from the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman to nearby Tallahatchie County Co...

(MISSISSIPPI DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS NEWS RELEASE) – Moving some inmates from the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman to nearby Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler is among the steps the Mississippi Department of Corrections is taking to maintain order in the wake of the recent unrest in the state prison system.

The department has contractedwith CoreCivic Inc. to immediately house up to 375 maximum security inmatesinitially for 90 days.

“The Tutwiler facility waschosen because it is the only location that can immediately take on thispopulation,” Commissioner Pelicia E. Hall said. “The facility is alreadyoperational and sufficiently staffed to manage close custody inmates. Thedepartment acted swiftly because of the violence at MSP and a lack of manpowerto restore and maintain order. We also cannot staff any other facility.”

Unit 29, where the inmateswere initially housed, has a failing infrastructure at Parchman, which has thecapacity for 3,560 inmates. Cleaning continues there from the recent actsof vandalism. The unit has been plagued with vandalism over the years and needsmajor repair and renovation.

While Unit 32, a maximumsecurity unit, is structurally sound and not condemned, it has been a temporaryhousing location to separate rival security threat groups, or rival gangmembers, from further acts of violence.

During the entire process,the inmates’ needs have been met. They have received food, bottled water, andnecessary medical attention. Additionally, the Tutwiler facility was inspectedWednesday by the State Department of Health and approved.

“Allof the cells passed a sanitation inspection which includes running water, hotand cold temperature availability, and proper lighting,” said Mississippi StateDepartment of Health Environmentalist Rayford Horton. “We also inspected thewater quality and kitchen facilities. I am pleased with what I found outthere.”

Details of inmates’ movementare usually confidential for security reasons. Department plans call fornotification of family members once movement is completed. The prison has about3,100 inmates today.

The initial plan is to houseup to 375 inmates at Tutwiler, which is less than 10 minutes from Parchman, ata cost of more than $2 million. The contract with the Tennessee-based companymay be extended for two more 90-day terms.

Walnut Grove Correctional Facilityin Leake County, a vacant prison, can house the type of inmates in question,but the MDOC does not have the staff to operate it.

“While the department haschallenges, keeping staff and the inmates safe is always our priority,”Commissioner Hall said. “We do not want to see any more loss of life.”