Short staffing causes lockdown in 1 of Mississippi’s prisons

Published 10:24 am Monday, January 28, 2019

JACKSON (AP) — The Mississippi corrections commissioner says part of one state-run prison is on lockdown because of a staffing shortage.

Commissioner Pelicia Hall said in a news release Friday that visitation and other privileges are also canceled indefinitely at that prison, the South Mississippi Correctional Facility in Leakesville.

She said the prison was holding 3,051 inmates — only 31 short of capacity. She said the staffing vacancy rate there is 48 percent.

Movement is restricted in a part of the prison that houses more than 1,800 inmates. Other parts of the prison have normal operations.

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She said lockdown also could be used at two other state prisons, if needed.

“The safety of our facilities and the public is first and foremost,” Hall said in the release.

Staffing vacancy rates are 46 percent at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility and 42 percent at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

She said the Department of Corrections is in a “pressure cooker” situation because of the 671 unfilled jobs in security.

Hall has asked lawmakers to set aside $7.1 million to increase the entry-level salary for correctional officers from the current $24,903 to the range of $28,000 to $31,000. Lawmakers are expected to make most budget decisions in late March or early April, and the state budget year begins July 1.