JACKSON, Miss. -- A Utah-based private prison operator will take over management of three Mississippi correctional institutions beginning in July.
Management & Training Corporation of Centreville, Utah, has signed 10-year operating contracts for the East Mississippi Correctional Facility near the Lost Gap community beginning July 2; Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Walnut Grove on July 9; and the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs on Aug. 13.
Financial details of the contracts were not made public.
The announcement came Thursday by the company and the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The Corrections Department and the GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla., in April agreed to end GEO's management contract at the three prisons.
At the time Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps told the AP that the department felt it might get a better price if all three prisons were presented as a package to other corrections management companies.
"The Mississippi Department of Corrections is looking forward to a great partnership with MTC," Epps said in a statement Thursday. "There is a need for different types of prisons, including state and regional as well as private facilities in Mississippi. MTC will be held to the same high standards as set by MDOC and I feel extremely confident that MTC will do a great job."
"We look forward to the opportunity to work in Mississippi," said MTC senior vice president of corrections Odie Washington in the statement. "We have partnered with state and federal governments in operating correctional facilities for the past 25 years, and have a strong record of providing safe, secure and well-run facilities."
With the addition of the Mississippi contracts, MTC will operate 22 correctional facilities in eight states.
The Walnut Grove prison is presently under a federal court order to remove juvenile inmates amid allegations of physical and sexual abuse. That court order came in a settlement of a lawsuit filed against Walnut Grove in 2010. GEO Group had repeatedly declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Epps has said he plans to send the 17-and-younger inmates to Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County by Oct. 1. He said that prison now has about 1,000 vacant beds, so there is no need for a new building.
Walnut Grove also houses adults. They would remain there under a settlement that ended a 2010 lawsuit.
Epps has said that local authority boards deal with management contracts at East Mississippi and Walnut Grove with MDOC help. He said MDOC works directly with vendors at Marshall County.
Owned by Walnut Grove Development Authority, Walnut Grove has a 1,500-bed capacity, currently housing minimum, medium, close and maximum custody male youthful offenders. It opened in 2001.
Marshall County has a 1,000-bed capacity, housing medium custody male offenders. It opened in 1996.
The three are among five privately run prisons in Mississippi.
The other two -- in Tutwiler and Woodville -- are operated by Corrections Corporation of America headquartered in Nashville, Tenn.
A sixth privately run prison, the Delta Correction Facility, which was managed by Corrections Corporation, closed in January.
Management & Training Corporation, www.mtctrains.com
Mississippi Department of Corrections, www.mdoc.state.ms.us