Prison looks at county

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 11, 2007

Adams County may play host to a federal prison in the near future.

Two correctional facility companies are looking at the county as a site for a future facility, Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said Wednesday.

One, Corrections Corporation of America, is looking at the county as one of several sites across the state and the nation.

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“We’re in the process of looking at and assessing communities all over the country, and a couple counties in Mississippi are in competition with other communities,” CCA spokesman Steve Owen said.

Owen would not give specifics of what a future Adams County facility might look like, its size or who might use it.

The company’s history of security and repeat business speaks for the safety of having such a facility in a community, Owen said.

Representatives for the other potential corrections facility company, GEO Group, Inc., could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

However, the company is looking only at Adams County, Grennell said.

He said both companies were looking at a 1,500-bed facility. Such a facility could mean up to 300 jobs averaging a $30,000 to $35,000 salary, he said.

Two potential sites have been brought up, Grennell said — a site in the northeast corner of Adams County on U.S. 84, and a site at the Natchez-Adams County Airport.

“GEO is looking at a site out at the airport, a no-longer-used runway, out of the eyes of the casual observer,” Grennell said.

The facility would likely hold federal prisoners and be a low- to mid-level security facility, he said.

“According to both groups, based on other facilities across other states, it does not put residents at risk whatsoever,” Grennell said.

“It’s very rare to have escapees, and most of the time, when someone escapes, they actually get away from the community in which the facility is located. They don’t hang around.”

Such a facility, if it housed federal inmates, would complement the coming federal courthouse, Grennell said.

“It’s going to create a lot of construction jobs, and they’re going to be taxpayers.”

“It will also help improve the retail community. You’ve got to think in terms of those coming to visit incarcerated loved ones, staying at a hotel, buying burgers. It would have that type of effect on the economy.”

Grennell said that the decision was far from final. Before any action is taken, the board of supervisors will hold a public meeting to get feedback from residents.

“This is not a final decision or anything,” he said. “There’s not any ink on any paper.”