By Alan Bean
Geo Group, the private prison firm that lost three prison contracts in Mississippi earlier this year because of gross violations that turned facilities like the juvenile prison at Walnut Grove into hell holes, has been disciplined again. This time, Geo is accused of failing to protect the safety of corrections workers at its prison near Lost Gap MS.
You would think that Mississippi officials might be getting the idea that private prisons aren’t such a good idea. Not so. Christopher Epps, Commissioner of the MS Dept. of Corrections, immediately announced that all the three private prisons previously run by Geo Corp would be turned over to the Management & Training Corporation of Centerville, Utah.
According to the Associated Press, Epps is hoping for a better result.
“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.”
Epps told reporters he thought Mississippi would get better terms if the three prisons were sold as a package deal. In other words, Mississippi is trying to do corrections on the cheap, and that’s the problem. The only way private prisons can turn a profit is by cutting corners. If they were really held to the same standards as state prisons they would have to hire as many corrections officers as MDOC and pay them comparable salaries. The private prison industry would also have to invest in a safe working environment for their employees, something that Geo Corp clearly failed to do. (more…)