GREENWOOD, Miss. -- Gov. Phil Bryant has signed bill to allow the state to contract with the federal government to house federal inmates in Leflore County in a now closed private prison.
However, corrections officials say budget cuts at the Bureau of Prisons have put the process on hold.
Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps says in a news release that Senate Bill 2547 paves the way for the former Delta Correctional Facility to reopen should a company succeed in a bid to the federal government to operate a minimum security prison that would house up to 1,600 inmates.
Management and Training Corporation, based in Centerville, Utah, submitted a bid to the federal government last summer. It proposed to use the DCF, which has been closed since January 2012.
The deal would require MTC to build a new 150-bed jail for the county because federal rules do not allow federal inmates to be housed in the same compound as a county jail. The county has a lease-purchase agreement with the Mississippi Department of Corrections for the portion of the state-owned compound that houses the jail.
The bill "prepares us to be ready should the Bureau of Prisons receive funding for the prison and the bid process resumes," Epps said. "Reopening Delta Correctional Facility will be a win-win situation for everyone. I am very hopeful."
DCF closed on Jan. 15, 2012. The approximately 900 inmates housed there at the time went to other facilities in the state.
MTC currently operates three private prisons in the state, Marshall County Correctional Facility, East Mississippi Correctional Facility and Walnut Grove Correctional Facility.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said in addition to cuts in staff and vocational programs for inmates, the sequestration will "slow the ongoing activations of new prisons that have completed construction during the last few years."