The Mississippi Department of Corrections said this week that it is now contracting with the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler to house some of its Parchman inmates.
According to a release from MDOC on Thursday, this is just one of the steps being taken to “maintain order in the wake of the recent unrest in the state prison system.
“The Tutwiler facility was chosen because it is the only location that can immediately take on this population,” Commissioner Pelicia E. Hall said. “The facility is already operational and sufficiently staffed to manage close custody inmates. The department acted swiftly because of the violence at MSP and a lack of manpower to restore and maintain order. We also cannot staff any other facility.”
MDOC has now contracted with CoreCivic Inc. to house up to 375 maximum security inmates, at least for 90 days starting out, the release said.
MDOC noted that Unit 29 has been plagued with vandalism over the past few years and it is still being cleaned from last week’s upheaval.
“While Unit 32, a maximum security unit, is structurally sound and not condemned, it has been a temporary housing location to separate rival security threat groups, or rival gang members, from further acts of violence,” the release said. “During the entire process, the inmates’ needs have been met. They have received food, bottled water, and necessary medical attention. Additionally, the Tutwiler facility was inspected Wednesday by the State Department of Health and approved.”
“All of the cells passed a sanitation inspection which includes running water, hot and cold temperature availability, and proper lighting,” said Mississippi State Department of Health Environmentalist Rayford Horton. “We also inspected the water quality and kitchen facilities. I am pleased with what I found out there.”
MDOC said the details about specific inmates being moved are kept confidential for security purposes, but the agency does plan to notify family when inmates are moved, upon completion of the process.
Tutwiler is less than 10 minutes from a Parchman prison that saw three deaths in three days last week due to what has been described as gang violence.
Two inmates also escaped the prison during the fray, but they have since been captured.
“While the department has challenges, keeping staff and the inmates safe is always our priority,” Hall said. “We do not want to see any more loss of life.”