October 23, 2020

Border crisis leads immigrants to private Mississippi prisons

As space at the Adams County Correctional Facility is vacated by the transfer of Federal Bureau of Prisons inmates to other facilities, the Adams County facility is steadily being filled by inmates from the U.S. Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agency as the prison works to secure a new contract to keep the facility operating, officials said.

CoreCivic owns and operates the 2,232-bed facility which employs approximately 380 people, including guards and medical professionals, and houses mostly prisoners who are undocumented immigrants charged with re-entering the United States after deportation.

CoreCivic announced in May that the bureau of prisons elected not to renew its contract at the correctional center, which opened in 2009 on U.S. 84 east of Natchez. CoreCivic also operates the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Mississippi, which earlier this year began housing immigrants detained by ICE

Chandler Russ, the executive director of Natchez, Inc., in Adams County, said ICE had been added to CoreCivic’s existing contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which was set to expire at the end of this month.

During the transition, Russ said ICE planned to add up to 660 inmates by the end of this month while the BOP moves its inmates out of the facility.

“The BOP has requested a one-month extension through August to fully ramp down their population,” Russ said. “Following that departure, (CoreCivic) expects to have a new contract with ICE in which they would utilize the entire institution.”

Amanda S. Gilchrist, CoreCivic director of Public Affairs, said the BOP offered the space to ICE, which had been experiencing a significant need for additional space to house their inmates.

“At this time, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is facing an emergent need for detention capacity,” Gilchrist said. “Working together with its federal partner and CoreCivic, BOP has offered the use of its available space at the Adams County Correctional Center as a flexible solution to help meet ICE’s needs.”

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said last month he and Natchez City Attorney Bob Latham had been in contact with CoreCivic to offer any assistance in helping the prison obtain a new contract with ICE.

“I have been provided information that the prison is losing inmates from the BOP and is receiving inmates from ICE, which more or less informed me that it would not be closing down,” Grennell said.