City, business officials get tour of new prison facilities

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 31, 2008

NATCHEZ — Generating 10,000 loads of laundry and preparing 9,000 meals all in a single day is all part of running a “mini city,” Buddy Johns told a tour group at the new CCA prison on Wednesday.

Johns is Corrections Corporation of America’s senior director of project development and led a tour of city and county officials on a walk through of the nearly completed facility on Wednesday.

With nearly countless rows of empty bunk beds, CCA’s dorm-housing unit looked more like an empty warehouse than a prison on Wednesday.

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CCA officials give tour of Adams County correctional facility dormitory block. Click here for slideshowCCA officials give tour of Adams County correctional facility cell housing block. Click here for slideshow

But those bunks won’t be empty for long.

The prison facility Corrections Corporation of America is currently building in Adams County should be complete in December.

And it won’t be long after that until the beds start filling up.

Johns estimated the prison’s construction to be approximately 85 percent complete.

“It’s basically a mini city,” he said of the facility just as the tour began. “It’s a massive operation.”

Over the course of about an hour and a half the tour group of about 40 went in and out of jail cells and open shower stalls.

While the facility is still under construction, areas like the dorm unit, cells and showers are almost fully constructed.

The tour of the dorm area got the most reaction-filled looks.

It’s a massive room with rows and rows of small metal bunks.

One wing of the dorm is meant to house 128 inmates — they share less than half a dozen toilets.

And while the facility won’t start catering to those inmates until the second quarter of 2009, CCA still has not acquired the contracts that would allow them to house federal prisoners.

CCA’s managing director Ron Thompson said he expects the facility to be awarded contracts to house federal inmates in January.

After CCA receives the contracts, they can house inmates 120 days after the issuance.

“After that we’ll be ready to go,” he said.

Thompson said once the contracts are in place the facility will house low-to medium-security risk offenders.

Of those offenders many are expected to be federal criminal aliens.

Thompson basically explained the classification as those who have illegally entered the country then committed a federal crime.

Thompson said once an alien inmate’s sentence has been served they will be deported.

But before the facility can house one single prisoner they need to hire and train a massive staff.

Johns said CCA plans to hire approximately 400 employees to run the facility.

And it’s those 400 or so jobs that have officials excited.

President of the Adams County Board of Supervisors Henry Watts said the new jobs will provide a positive economic impact for the county.

Watts said new jobs and the prison’s constant need for food, water and other supplies would create a ripple effect in the county.

Watts said he felt the new economic boost would ultimately create a new need, and subsequent housing growth spurt, in the county.

But supervisor Darryl Grennell said he believes the economic growth will go further than Adams County.

“Everyone’s going to benefit,” he said.

Grennell said people traveling to work at the prison from areas like Franklin County and Concordia Parish would bring back an economic benefit to their communities as well.