MDOC removing about 600 inmates from regional jails due to budget constraints

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — The Mississippi Department of Corrections is reducing the state inmate population at county regional jails.

They said the change is due to budget constraints.

The agency will be removing 602 inmates, starting Friday, from 13 of the 15 regional jails.

Regional facilities receive $29.74 per inmate per day, officials said. The state is required to provide 80 percent occupancy.

“We have places to put the inmates that have been housed above what the contracts require, and a significant amount of money will be reinvested in the Mississippi Department of Corrections,” Commissioner Marshall Fisher said. “We are determined to live within our budget.”

MDOC officials said the department had to reduce spending by $5 million to comply with Gov. Phil Bryant’s recent order for agencies to cut 1.5 percent for the last half of the fiscal year ending June 30.

The 2016 budget of $333 million in general funds is $23 million less than what the department requested last year. Officials said they aren’t asking for an increase in those funds in the 2017 budget.

MDOC has mentioned in the past that they have challenges of staff shortages, high turnover rates, and low pay.

Commissioner Fisher said he is constantly re-evaluating the department’s expenditures.

“Hard choices are just as necessary this year as they were last year when I became corrections commissioner,”  Fisher said. “For example, I don’t like having to close community work centers, but we simply don’t have the staff to keep some of them operating. Until we improve the pay of corrections officers, staffing will continue to be a critical issue.”

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