- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) - Corrections officials have conducted a shakedown at the Marshall County Correctional Facility, seizing weapons, cellphones and other contraband at the private prison that could lead to criminal prosecutions.

Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher told The Clarion-Ledger (https://on.thec-l.com/1BrxpUm) officials believe there were some staff complicit in bringing in contraband and one has already resigned.

He said the seizure of many shanks and cellphones at five prisons so far, public and private, show working as a correctional officer is a dangerous job.

Legislation is now pending that would increase the starting salary for correctional officers of $22,006 (which qualifies a family of three for food stamps) and for probation officers (about $27,000) by 10 percent. The last time they got a pay raise was in 2007.

Fisher said he believes increasing the pay can help corrections officials hire more qualified officers and also aid in reducing corruption.

On Wednesday, corrections officials seized 23 shanks from the 991-inmate Marshall County prison, which is run by the Management and Training Corporation.

MTC spokesman Issa Arnita said contraband is a problem at all prisons in the United States.

“We take contraband extremely seriously,” he said. “Contraband puts both staff and inmates in danger, and we’re working tirelessly to reduce the amount of contraband that enters our facilities.”

Since taking over four Mississippi facilities in 2012 and 2013, MTC has worked with state corrections officials to install a body scanner in the entrance and a 30-foot netting to prevent contraband from being tossed over the facilities’ fences.

“MTC has also created a K-9 team consisting of two highly trained, contraband-sniffing German Shepherds and three correctional officers to make unannounced visits to all four facilities,” Arnita said. “This new K-9 team has discovered and confiscated dozens of contraband over the last few months.”


Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

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