Walnut Grove Mayor upset the state is closing privately run pris - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

Walnut Grove Mayor upset the state is closing privately run prison

Source: WLBT archives Source: WLBT archives

The state is closing a private operated prison in Leake County. The Walnut Grove Correctional Facility will stay open until September, a move the mayor and many residents say will cripple the town's economy.

“I am absolutely mad. I think the Governor has an unleashed a rabid dog running the department of corrections. He has basically put the finger in the eye of the people in Walnut Grove,” said Mayor Walnut Grove Mayor Brian Gomillion.

Walnut Grove's Mayor Brian Gomillion said he is furious at Commissioner Marshall Fisher and the Mississippi Department of Corrections after hearing on the news that the state was closing his town's privately managed prison after 14 years.

“It is a sad day that your largest employer that is under the operation of the state is shut down, and your state government doesn't bother to tell you they are about to do that,’ said the Mayor Gomillion

Friday, MDOC announced that decision was made due to budget constraints and the prison population declining. The state's prisoner population has been dropping since reforms were passed in 2014.  Commissioner Fisher even called the move fiscally responsible.

“It is going to have a devastating impact on 215 plus families, those 215 people that are losing their jobs and all the businesses in Walnut Grove that those employees patronized,” said Gomillion.

One of the small town restaurants that could be feel the impact of the closing is Urban Country Kitchen.  Former Hell's Kitchen contestant Kashia Zollicoffer owns the place.

“I am sad because of the customers we won't be able to see and the people that can't come dine with us because they only come to Walnut Grove because of the prison,” said Zollicoffer.  

“We have come a long way and won't die at the hands of MDOC,” said the Mayor.

MTC has managed Walnut Grove, which opened in March 2001, since 2012. T

he current contract cost is $14.6 million annually. MDOC officials said this prison closing is one of several within the last 18 months, including four community work centers and the paid Joint State County Work Program has also ended.

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