(WJTV) — Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher is responding to the remarks made by some county officials about the loss of inmates at regional jails.
Fisher said MDOC is not responsible for the affected counties’ financial predicament.
Back in February, MDOC announced that state inmate populations at regional county jails were being reduced due to budget constraints. The inmates were being reduced to the contractual amount of 80 percent capacity.
MDOC shifted more than 600 inmates from regional jails into three state prisons.
“Those citizens may want to question the wisdom of the officials in their respective counties who based budgets on inmate populations that cannot always be guaranteed,” Fisher said. “While I sympathize with the citizens of the affected counties, the Mississippi Department of Corrections cannot continue to pay counties above contract requirements when it has space to house the inmates. I have an agency to run. Public safety is paramount to MDOC’s mission, not subsidizing counties budgets.
MDOC officials said the 2016 budget was $23 million less than the Legislative Budget Office recommendation. Also, in January, the budget was cut an additional 1.5% for the remainder of FY 2016.
“MDOC’s 2017 budget request does not include an increase in funding,” Fisher said. “We don’t know what our final budget numbers are going to be at this time. We are aware that revenue is down and that the Legislature has the unenviable job of determining the funding level for all state agencies.”
Fisher said those supporting the counties are spreading misinformation.
“None of the inmates were pulled from the regionals and sent to private prisons,” Fisher said. “MDOC also has not offered to pay off a sheriff’s bond and close the county facility, as reported. However, closing a regional is not out of the question.”