Mississippi moving inmates to private Tutwiler prison

By MICHELLE LOU / MISSISSIPPI TODAY,

TUTWILER — The Mississippi Department of Corrections is moving state inmates to a privately operated prison in Tallahatchie County following recent outbursts of deadly violence in multiple Mississippi prisons.

Sources in the law enforcement community confirmed the transfers to the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility to Mississippi Today.

The number of prisoners who have been moved and when the transfers began are unclear.

Officials with the corrections department and Gov. Phil Bryant’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday morning.

Nashville-based CoreCivic currently owns and operates the prison, located in the town of Tutwiler. A spokeswoman for CoreCivic referred questions about the matter to the state department of corrections.

Mississippi’s beleaguered corrections system has garnered increased scrutiny in the new year as reports surfaced of deadly fights among prisoners at several facilities, including Parchman and South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville. Several civil rights groups and U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson have requested a U.S. Justice Department investigation into the prison system.

CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, has owned the facility since 2000. The company is one of the country’s two largest correctional firms and the company has prospered in recent years as President Donald Trump has promised a tough-on-crime agenda, including immigration and immigrant detention.

The facility began housing federal immigration detainees in the summer of 2018.

In 2013, CoreCivic (then CCA) lost its contract with the state of Mississippi to operate the 1,000-bed Wilkinson County Correctional Facility. The contract was awarded to Utah-based private operator MTC instead, then the only prison contractor for state-owned facilities.

CoreCivic has donated to the campaigns of both Bryant and his incoming successor, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, in recent elections. In 2015, the company donated $1,000 to each campaign. Last year, CoreCivic contributed $1,000 to Reeves’s gubernatorial campaign; the company did not contribute to the campaign of Reeves’s Democratic opponent, Jim Hood, per records from the National Institute on Money in Politics.


IN THE PHOTO: The Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility is pictured on May 23, 2018.  (Sun-Sentinel file photo by Clay McFerrin)

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