/Troubled Walnut Grove private prison to close

Troubled Walnut Grove private prison to close

MDOC released a press release stating that the decision was based on a smaller than expected budget and falling prison population. MDOC Commissioner Marshall Fisher stated in the press release that “MDOC’s budget was lower than we expected.” We have decided that this is the best and most prudent decision. “We have enough space in our state-run prisons for the Walnut Grove (Correctional Facility) to accommodate the 900 inmates.” Walnut Grove has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. In 2001, the facility was opened to house children convicted of serious crimes. The Southern Poverty Law Center of Mississippi, American Civil Liberties Union and American Civil Liberties Union sued Mississippi over prison conditions in 2010. A federal settlement was reached. The prison was managed by the GEO Group, a Boca Raton-based private correctional company. GEO Group dropped its contract and another firm, Utah’s Management & Training Corp., took over the prison’s management in 2012. Fisher stated that MDOC was pleased with MTC’s management of Walnut Grove, along with three other prisons in Marshall, Lauderdale, and Wilkinson counties. MTC is contracted to manage Walnut Grove at $14.6 million annually. After Chris Epps, former Commissioner of MDOC, was indicted for federal corruption, Fisher has closed four community centers, ended the joint state-county program, and reduced the number of people being held at regional jails. Jody Owens is the managing attorney of the SPLC. She sued to extend the settlement in 2015 because attorneys claimed that little had been done to make the facility safer for prisoners. The prison was considered one of the most dangerous in the country when SPLC sued it in 2015. Owens, who spoke by telephone on Friday afternoon, said that it was a happy day for all those who were beaten and raped in the facility. “While Commissioner Fisher points out budget constraints, it is just common sense (to close down the prison),” Bernie Warner, MTC senior vice president for corrections, stated that while the company was disappointed in the end of the contract, the decision was in the best interests of Mississippi taxpayers. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the outstanding staff at the facility. We know that the transition will be difficult for some of the most skilled corrections professionals in the industry. Warner stated that Warner will do everything in his power to make the transition as seamless as possible.