The Mississippi Department of Corrections is continuing a series of closures that could eliminate a free source of manual labor for local communities. Commissioner Marshall Fisher says the reason is inadequate staffing. MPB's Maura Moed reports.
The Yazoo County Community Work Center closed Friday. Commissioner Fisher says the eight employees and 35 inmates will be relocated. Fisher says the staffing shortfall has become too critical to continue operating the Center.
The centers are an alternative facility for inmates to finish serving their sentences. It is common to see MDOC inmates picking up trash on the highways of Mississippi or at city and state parks.
Yazoo County Sheriff, Jacob Sheriff says they're a valuable source of free labor.
Janitorial work, and mechanical work are other examples of labor inmates provide.
In a statement, Commissioner Fisher says " Municipalities and counties should no longer heavily rely on inmate labor in the face of a dwindling eligible inmate population". Fisher continues, "MDOC is willing to work with eligible county jails to provide a Joint State County Work program."
Fisher says two more centers with chronic staff shortages are expected to close soon. One is Bolivar County in Rosedale, and the other is Jackson County in Pascagoula. He says the department will continue having staffing issues until the state is able to provide livable wages for all employees.