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Wilkinson County prison to get new management company

NATCHEZ — After 15 years of operation by the Corrections Corporation of America, the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility will have a new management company July 1.

WCCF is a correctional facility for state prisoners. The Mississippi Department of Corrections contracts with private companies to operate the 1,000-bed facility. Since 1998, CCA — the company that also operates the federal immigration prison north of Natchez, the Adams County Correctional Center — has run the prison.

But Friday, the Utah-based Management and Training Corporation announced that MDOC had awarded it a five-year contract to operate the prison starting in July. MTC already operates the East Mississippi, Walnut Grove and Marshal County correctional centers for MDOC.

The Wilkinson County contract also has two 12-month options for extension.

“We look forward to continuing to build strong relationships in the great state of Mississippi,” MTC Senior Vice President of Corrections Odie Washington said. “We have partnered with state and federal governments in operating correctional facilities for the past 25 years and have a strong record of providing safe, secure and well-run facilities.”

MTC company officials said they plan to retain “the vast majority” of employees at WCCF.

MDOC Commissioner Chris Epps said the department has been pleased with its relationship with MTC over the last year, and that state law dictates that private prisons operate at 10-percent less than the cost of comparable state operations.

“That provides for valuable cost savings for the taxpayers in Mississippi,” Epps said. “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.”

CCA spokesman Steve Owen said that while the company is disappointed with the decision, CCA is appreciative of the partnership it has had with the MDOC at the Wilkinson County facility since 1998.

“We’re proud of the great service our dedicated correctional officers, chaplains, principals, teachers and counselors have provided to the inmates entrusted to our care,” Owen said.

“As soon as we’re authorized by MDOC, we will immediately begin conversations to ensure the smooth transition of the facility. CCA will also have a team of human resources professionals on the ground next week to help make sure that staff are provided the best opportunity for their circumstances, either to continue their career with CCA or to continue working at WCCF.”

Current or prospective WCCF employees who want to seek employment with MTC should visit www.mtctrains.com/about-mtc/mississippi-corrections for more information.

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