JACKSON, Miss.–You won’t see those guys in stripes disappear from the side of the road just yet. Four state-operated community work centers for prisoners that were set to close will stay open after all.
The move was announced Monday by Miss. Dept. of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps. The centers affected are in Yazoo, Bolivar, Jefferson and George counties.
Though it was money problems, namely a deficit in the budget, that was about to force the closures, Epps said keeping them open “is in the best interest of MDOC and the communities they serve”.
Closing the centers would have meant additional costs for the counties because the inmates there provide free or nearly free labor, picking up trash or performing other tasks the counties would otherwise have to pay for.
“I never wanted to close these centers, and only made the call after exhausting MDOC’s options,” Epps said. “I never stopped thinking about the impact on staff, the communities and the public in general. MDOC has always wanted to maintain a good relationship with local communities.”
There was also a shortage of trustee inmates.
Epps did not say where the money would be coming from to operate the centers after July 15.
“Being a good steward of taxpayers’ money while maintaining public safety is still my priority,” he said. “We will keep the number of offenders at these centers at the best population we can.”
There are 17 community work centers of that type in the state.