State to End County Inmate Work Programs

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JACKSON – The Mississippi Department of Corrections plans to end the Joint State County Work Programs beginning Aug. 1.

MDOC will be able to redirect $3.2 million to other budgetary needs as a result of moving inmates from the programs in 30 counties.

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“One of my most significant duties is to be a good steward of taxpayers’ money,” Commissioner Marshall Fisher said. “As such, eliminating the JSCWP will be a more efficient use of taxpayer dollars, with public safety of the utmost concern.”

Inmates in the programs will be moved to the agency’s 17 community work centers, where the inmates still will be available to perform work for counties.

Fisher, whom Gov. Phil Bryant appointed commissioner in January, said the impending action is one of several hard decisions his administration will make in restructuring the inmate population in response to a population shift.  The prison system is experiencing an increase in the number of offenders on supervision in communities as the incarcerated population decreases.

“The old way of doing business is no longer a viable option,” Fisher said.

The Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) has a federal court order capacity of  2004 beds available in county jails to house state inmates.  In many instances the sheriff of an approved county jail will request that a state inmate be housed at their facility.  These state inmates, often referred to as trusty or work program inmates, provide free labor to the sheriff in the form of jail support.  State inmates housed in county jails also provide free labor to municipalities and counties in the form of building and property maintenance, construction, litter cleanup, and beautification projects to roads, parks and other public property.

A number of Northeast Mississippi counties are enrolled in the program and could be hit financially through the loss of revenue, loss of services to local governments or loss of revenue dedicated to pay for jail expansion bonds. Those counties and the number of inmates approved at each county include: AlcornTY, 130; Attala, 16; Chickasaw, 90; Choctaw, 24; Clay, 65; Lafayette, 10; Monroe, 74; Pontotoc, 51; Prentiss, 18; Tishomingo, 80; Union, 24; Webster, 3; Winston, 20.

 

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