Meeting about prison violated law

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Adams County supervisors may have had the best of intentions last week in meeting privately with representatives of the Adams County Correctional Center, but the meeting violated the law.

Supervisors argue they were trying to do what is in the best interest of the community — find out information about the future of the ACCC, which came into question after a recent U.S. Department of Justice report suggested the federal government should end or curtail its use of private prisons to house federal inmates.

ACCC is one of those facilities and the deadly 2012 riot at the facility weighed heavily into the DOJ’s recommendation.

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Should the ruling ultimately affect the operations at ACCC, no doubt the economic impact would be substantial.

The prison employs hundreds of local people and pays approximately $2 million in property tax to the county.

But none of that means the supervisors are above the law.

Supervisors working in their official capacity represent the public. The public instills in these men and women great trust with the promise that as the public’s representatives, the supervisors will uphold the law, no matter what.

The Mississippi Open Meetings Act is clear in this case — a quorum of supervisors, three members in Adams County’s case, meeting together on a matter of county interest should be considered a public meeting.

Supervisors erred in simply meeting with prison officials at a local coffee shop rather than in an official capacity.

They should know better, and we expect them to familiarize themselves with the law and immediately abide by it — without exception.