The Alcorn County Board of Supervisors on Monday approved entering a contract with Mississippi Correctional Management, Inc., for operation, maintenance and management of the facility. That motion came after the board voted unanimously that it wants to contract with a private entity to run the jail.
The arrangement will need approval of the Mississippi Department of Corrections before being implemented.
Irb Benjamin, president of Mississippi Correctional Management, has been a consultant for the county throughout the planning, construction and opening of the new jail. He said he is ready to get started as soon as MDOC Commissioner Christopher Epps gives approval.
“This is in line with what we do every day,” he said.
Sheriff Charles Rinehart said the top priority is continuing the flow of state inmates to the facility, and he believes contracting with Benjamin’s business is the best option. Another possibility was letting the state take over operations.
It is a two-year contract that will cover the rest of the sheriff’s term. He said he does not want to tie his successor to a contract for jail management.
Benjamin said the cost of operations under his management will be no more than what the county currently pays.
The action comes a few weeks after MDOC Commissioner Epps admonished the sheriff in a letter for violations of the inmate pass policy. When state inmate William “Danny” Whitaker died at a residence in Corinth while out on a pass, it came to light that five others, serving time for charges such as armed robbery and manslaughter, had received passes in violation of MDOC policy. The letter said no more state inmates would come to the county until a plan of action is in place.
District 3 Supervisor Tim Mitchell told Benjamin the board wants to see the financial situation improve for the facility, which depends on the housing of state inmates to generate revenue to pay the debt on the new jail and justice complex.
“You’ve got a big hole to dig out of,” he said.
Through October, the jail has a deficit of $237,057. Revenue exceeded expenses in three months from January to October, while losses as large as $87,000 in January kept the bottom line in the red.
The Grenada County Jail is among those currently managed by Mississippi Correctional Management.
In other business, Jimmy Taylor, the former sheriff, appeared before the board to speak about a problem with a sheriff’s department credit card that ended up on his personal credit report and affected his credit score. He learned of the issue when attempting to borrow money at a local bank.
He said upon investigating he found that the credit card bill was never submitted to the board for payment, and the card was never taken out of his name after leaving office.
Board President Lowell Hinton said the problem with the card has been rectified.
The board’s next meeting is 9 a.m. Dec. 16.