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franklin county times

Musgrove: New contracts could save taxpayers millions

By By William F. West / community editor
July 5, 2002
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove defended his call to renegotiate contracts with Mississippi's privately-run prisons, saying the move will save taxpayers between $6 million and $12 million.
The state Department of Corrections sent letters last week to companies running the five private prisons, saying that their contracts were terminated.
The notices came days before the start of the state's new fiscal year on Monday.
At the end of the 2002 legislative session in April, Musgrove vetoed $54.7 million for private prisons. The money was part of a larger bill to fund the Department of Corrections.
Lawmakers didn't attempt to override the veto because a state attorney general's opinion said that the partial veto was invalid. Musgrove disagreed, saying that his move left private prisons with no funding.
Musgrove began meeting this week with officials from companies running the private prisons in hopes of renegotiating contracts. He plans to call a special session on the issue this summer.
Mississippi's five privately run prisons are the Delta Correctional Facility, Wilkinson County Correctional Facility, Marshall County Correctional Facility, Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility and East Mississippi Correctional Facility.
Wackenhut Correctional Corp. operates East Mississippi at Meehan Junction. The prison opened in April 1999 and houses state inmates with special needs.
Musgrove said the money for private prisons in the bill he vetoed was protected from budget cuts and kept Corrections Commissioner Robert Johnson from exercising discretion in spending.
The governor said the proposal "was unconscionable when the law required cuts to be made in our schools, in our colleges and universities and in the protection of our children."
Musgrove said he vetoed money for the prisons because he believed the appropriation "was blatantly unfair, especially in a national recession."
The governor said his veto was legal despite the attorney general's opinion.
Mississippi has three state-run prisons: the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchaman and satellite prisons in Rankin County and Greene County. Besides that, the state has five privately-run prisons.
Here is a look at the private prisons.
Delta Correctional Facility
Location: Greenwood.
Opened: September 1996.
Capacity: 1,000 medium custody male beds.
Manager: Corrections Corporation of America.
East Mississippi Correctional Facility
Location: Meehan Junction.
Opened: April 1999.
Capacity: 750 medium custody male beds, expandable to 1,000.
Manager: Wackenhut Corrections Corp.
Marshall County Correctional Facility
Location: Holly Springs.
Opened: June 1996.
Capacity: 1,000 medium custody male beds.
Manager: Wackenhut Corrections Corp.
Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility
Location: Walnut Grove.
Opened: March 2001.
Capacity: 750 youths.
Manager: Tuscolemeta, Inc.
Wilkinson County Correctional Center
Location: Woodville.
Opened: January 1998.
Capacity: 1,000 medium custody male beds.
Manager: Corrections Corporation of America.