Earlier this month, Michael Wilson escaped from the South Mississippi Correctional Institution, and now the Mississippi Department of Corrections has issued their first public statement on the matter.
Wilson, who is serving two life sentences for a murder conviction, was on the run for two days before he was caught. While it’s unknown how Wilson escaped, the MDOC says that staffing issues may have played a role, along with working conditions at the facility.
“While understaffing has not been directly attributed to the July 5 escape, it could be a contributing factor that ultimately affects public safety. The main challenges of the MDOC that have been voiced to lawmakers under this administration are staffing for its correctional facilities along with appropriate wages for correctional staff. The department is committed to finding ways to address the understaffing problem, but until the wages, the necessary security positions are restored, and working conditions of the correctional officers improve, the state correctional system will continue to be at a disadvantage in carrying out its public safety mission.”
The MDOC claims that proper protocol was followed in the wake of Wilson’s escape, but they will continue to evaluate what could be done better in the future. The statement goes on to say that an internal investigation will continue as they attempt to determine how Wilson escaped, and if any employees were involved.
“While naturally there are a lot of questions, ample time should be given for a full internal investigation to determine if there were operational failures. If the department finds, upon completion of that investigation, that any disciplinary action is warranted or any operational changes are needed, then it will act accordingly. At all times, while conducting the internal investigation, the department is aware that any employee affected is entitled to due process.”
The MDOC noted that they continue to take their responsibility to ensure public safety “very seriously”, and that they always intend to capture any escaped inmates without anyone being hurt.