JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - All of the ongoing concern about state prisons serves as a backdrop to the start of a new legislative session.
There’s a laundry list of all the priorities if you ask lawmakers looking to have a clean slate for a new term including: workforce development, brain drain, hemp legislation, early education, healthcare, education and infrastructure.
But each admit corrections will be on that list, whether they originally planned for it to be or not.
“Unfortunately, we have put something off until it’s a crisis," said Rep. Dana Criswell, R-DeSoto. "A lot of times that’s how government works, we wait for a crisis and we go solve the crisis. And I think that’s what we’ve done here.”
“Prior to all this development, I knew that the Department of Corrections was an issue that we needed to address... a balloon waiting to bust," explained Rep. Bryant Clark, D-Pickens. "And it may have been a good time for all of this to develop to bring it on the radar.”
“It gave us a boost without a doubt," added Sen. Dean Kirby, R-Senate President Pro-Tempore. "We definitely need to look and make sure our corrections officers are properly paid.”
Lt. Gov. Elect Delbert Hosemann wanted a better reference point and to hear the information first hand.
“I went to Parchman on Sunday and spent a good part of the day there," said Lt. Governor-elect Delbert Hosemann. "I went in Unit 29 and looked at the destruction that occurred there and there was literally still blood on the walls there. It was horrific conditions. The first thing we ought to do, of course, is protect the guards and the inmates.”
And the solutions won’t be free.
“Funding is an issue," noted Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula. "We’ve known that. But, like everything, we have a lot of needs in this state. But, yes, it is something we have to pay attention to.”
Both the incoming and outgoing leadership were meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss temporary solutions for MDOC’s problems.