Alcorn board OKs jail management contract

djournal-alcorn-countyBy Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – The Alcorn County sheriff is awaiting approval from the Mississippi Department of Corrections to install a new prison management organization to resolve issues that led the state to stop sending inmates to the county’s regional jail.

Sheriff Charles Rinehart sent a letter by the Nov. 29 deadline required by MDOC Commissioner Christopher Epps outlining his proposal to resolve the state’s concerns over managing the facility in compliance with state laws and procedures.

Epps suspended transferring state inmates to the Alcorn County facility in a letter dated Nov. 7, after inmate William Whitaker died on Oct. 26 while he was on improperly approved leave.

At Monday’s supervisors meeting, Rinehart recommended that Mississippi Correctional Management assume operation of the regional jail, and board members voted to approve the recommendation.

Epps will need to approve the agreement for the change to take effect, Rinehart said, so there is no time set when a change would occur.

MCM principal Irb Benjamin said his company has managed the Marion County regional jail for about six years and has expertise in the areas that would be required in Alcorn County. Jail operating costs under the contract with MCM would not increase, he said, because he would implement staffing changes to keep those costs level.

The contract term that Rinehart recommended is two years, through the end of his term of office. However, the contract could be terminated by the county on 30 days’ notice if there is dissatisfaction, and could be renewed at the end of the two years on a vote of the board.

Rinehart said that he and Benjamin had been working together since the idea of constructing the new jail originated and he feels confident that, if the agreement is approved by MDOC, it would be in the best interest of the county.

lena.mitchell@journalinc.com