Report Says Prisoners Can Keeping Working For County Jails

Sheriffs across the state are breathing a sigh of relief after Attorney General Mike Moore assured them they won't lose their inmates on work details to private prisons.

A legislative evaluation report released Thursday compares the costs of state, regional and private prisons in Mississippi. The report shows that 10 regional jails and two private prisons need fewer inmates than expected to break even on their operating costs.

Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin speculated for days that he and all other county sheriffs would lose their working inmates to private prisons. Attorney General Moore put them at ease.

"There won't be a need to move a single one of these trustees into private jails," Moore said.

Earlier this week, Corrections Commissioner Robert Johnson informed sheriffs that beds in private jails needed to be filled. His solution was to take state inmates from county jails and place them in private facilities.

"We're waiting on reports from the PEER committee to give us the exact numbers we'll need to put in these facilities," Johnson said.

That report says the number of inmates needed to fill private facility beds is lower than initially expected. Therefore sheriffs can keep their state inmates in county jails.

"There are about 792 state inmates who are in county jails in Mississippi right now," Moore said. "They are all working, and that saves tax payers millions of dollars."

Moore calls it a win win situation for everybody, and Malcolm McMillin agrees.