SuperTalk Mississippi
News Politics

Gangs in Private Prison Causing Big Trouble: Riot at Walnut Grove

WALNUT GROVE, Miss.–The Walnut Grove Correctional Facility is run by Management and Training Corporation and a statement from that private company said gang violence was behind a New Year’s Eve riot where inmates and guards were hurt.

Even though the prison is privately run, it’s still under the supervision of the Miss. Dept. of Corrections and they have already changed management at the prison.

The prison is on lock-down after the 7 p.m. Tuesday fight. One guard had minor injuries and at least four inmates were taken to the University of Miss. Medical Center in Jackson.

News Mississippi is told there were possibly shanks, or make-shift knives, used in the fight.

It is not clear just how many inmates in total were hurt in the fight.

In May several groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit in connection with violence at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility and East Mississippi, both run by MTC also.

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The groups contend that the state should not use private contractors to run prisons, saying the guards are undertrained and the company lacks the resources to protect and help the inmates.

“I am here to urge the Miss. Dept. of Corrections to reconsider the use of private contractors in its prisons,” said Michael McIntosh on May 30. His son was injured at the youth facility and suffered brain damage.

Katie Autry, whose son was transferred to East Mississippi, said they did not have counselors to help her son.

“I do not believe that the state should rely on a private contractor whose purpose is to make money off of my son,” she said.

In June, Dept. of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps responded with this statement:

“When MDOC has been made aware of problems, it has responded accordingly. It does not knowingly ignore informed and sound requests for solutions. Prison in itself can be considered barbaric.

“MDOC has monitors at all of its prisons, including EMCF,”said Epps. “MDOC was not satisfied with EMCF’s previous operator, The GEO Group Inc., and the plaintiffs in the recent lawsuit agreed with the decision to go with a new operator. The plaintiffs indicated they were happy when MTC was hired. Now they indicate they want the current operator fired. We believe that MTC is doing a good job, and are confident the court will agree.”

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