Company considering Natchez operates Wilkinson Co. facility

Published 6:00 am Friday, January 19, 2007

One of the companies considering Adams County as a future site for a correctional facility, Corrections Corporation of America, operates a facility outside Woodville.

CCA spokesman Steve Owen said the company was still in the preliminary stages of scoping out potential sites.

Owen said he couldn’t give details on any potential Adams County facility.

Email newsletter signup

CCA is one of multiple companies competing for a federal contract to build a facility. Another company looking at building an Adams County facility is GEO, Inc.

Owens said CCA was looking at Adams County and Pike County for a potential facility in Mississippi, as well as looking at other communities across the country.

Wilkinson County Correctional Facility has been in operation since the late 1990s and has a pretty clean record, Wilkinson County Supervisors President Thomas Tolliver said Thursday.

“We haven’t had any problems as far as security, and we haven’t had any (inmates) escape since they’ve been here,” Tolliver said. “They’ve shown that they can keep their inmates in.”

The correctional facility has really been a boost to the economy, Tolliver said.

“Just before (they came), we lost the two garment factories we had. (The facility) has really been a savior for us,” he said. “I think mostly it’s a pretty good job impact. They do what they say they’re going to do. That’s the most you can ask.”

Not everyone was pleased with the idea of a correctional facility setting up shop a few miles outside town, he said.

Mary Ann McCurley, who lives outside Woodville, was part of a group of citizens who organized a petition to put the issue up for a vote.

“Safety was part of it,” she said. “And I especially don’t like that it’s right on the side of the highway where everybody can see it.”

The group organizing the petition didn’t have enough signatures to qualify for an open vote, but McCurley still feels the county made a decision without the citizens, she said.

“The main thing was we didn’t get to vote on it,” McCurley said. “The public never got to vote on it.”

Now that it has been in operation for nearly a decade, she said things have settled down.

“I’m still not happy it’s here,” she said. “But I’m probably not as concerned now as I was about people escaping. We haven’t had a big problem with that. After a while, you get used to living with one.”

Many other citizens are pleased the facility is there, even if it’s just because the jail means jobs, Wilkinson County Sheriff Reginald Jackson said.

“It’s been a very rewarding experience working with CCA,” Jackson said. “We have a good line of communication.”

Jackson, too, touted the safety of the company.

“It’s never had any escapes,” he said. “As far as my recollection, they haven’t even had any signs of attempts of any escapes.”