CCA gives Adams County Correctional Center update

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Correctional Center is near capacity and has inmates from 71 different countries.

Warden Vance Laughlin updated interested community members Tuesday at a quarterly community advisory meeting.

The prison has maintained a steady population of 2,510 inmates with the average sentence length being 76 months and the average inmate age 38 years old, Laughlin said.

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“That is a good age to have as the average,” he said. “Having an older population tends to calm things down when they are in the prison.”

Laughlin said while the facility was contracted to house 2,232 inmates and currently houses 2,510, the prison is not over the limit.

“Our contract stipulates that we house 115 percent of the base number of inmates. That equals 2,567,” he said. “We have 2,580 bunks, so even if we are at full capacity, there are still 13 beds available.”

Laughlin also said that of the inmates incarcerated, 58 percent of them are there for drug offense, while 33 percent are there for immigration offenses.

“Our inmates are low security criminal aliens,” he said. “The majority of these are from Mexico.”

Senior Security Institution Manager Donna Mott is one of the four Bureau of Prisons employees that works at the facility, and she said the structure of the prison was mandated by Congress in the 1990s.

“Privatization of prisons began in the ’80s when the government started seeking private contractors to have prisons,” she said. “They wanted to work with private companies to put low security inmates into private prisons. Partnering with these privately-owned facilities allows us some more flexibility.”

Mott said since the prison houses mainly low security threats and criminal aliens, much of the work at the prison is spent of pre-release programming.

“We try to get people where they need to be when they get back into the community with the resources they need,” she said. “They can get their GED, learn how to balance a checkbook or even stay involved with drug treatment programs.”

Mott also said the prison works with criminal aliens to help get them back on their feet after they are released as well with work on similar drug treatment and GED equivalent programs.

“We have a very cooperative relationship with immigration so we can help focus our resources to release these prisoners outside of the country,” she said. “Around 99 percent of the inmates are deported back when they are released, and us housing them before they are released saves the taxpayer money because they do not have to be sent back to customs.”

Mott said ACCC has done a phenomenal job of keeping the inmates.

“There is a great partnership with the community,” she said. “Vance runs the prison, and I simply oversee it to make sure the contracts are followed, and (Laughlin) has done a good job of that.”

Laughlin also introduced new Assistant Warden Larry Greer, who will start working for ACCC in the next week.

“I got here last week and I walked around to size up the place,” Greer said. “I found a very wonderful staff in place. Any time you can open up a new prison and have it running the way it is now in such a short period of time, that is a great accomplishment.”

Laughlin said the prison is also looking for a second assistant warden, but there is currently no news on the position.

The Bureau of Prisons operates 13 private correctional centers housing more than 24,000 inmates across the United States.