Job openings at Mississippi prisons, Vermont convicts catching COVID 19 in the Mississippi Delta and an actress going to prison bring to mind the time an industry-hungry county turned down an opportunity to host a prison.
It doesn’t seem like it’s been 20 years since a controversy raged in Pike County over the prospects of a private prison locating on an industrial site not far from the Fernwood Country Club.
But a Backward Glance feature in the McComb Enterprise-Journal’s weekend edition documents it. “Aug. 22, 1990: George Killinger, a spokesman for Cornell Corrections, talked about the company’s plans to possibly build a prison in Pike County, one of 14 sites under consideration.”
Pike County for a while seemed to be the preferred site until considerable public opposition arose. The loudest voices against it were those of residents in close proximity to what became Cornell’s favorite location for the prison.
Just as they had successfully rejected the proposal for a medical waste incinerator in the area several years earlier, they made it clear they didn’t want a large prison near their back yards.
Eventually, a private prison specializing in housing illegal immigrants that could have gone to Pike County was opened in Adams County in a more remote location than the site proposed in Pike.
Probably just as well for both counties.
Two things that prisons and landfills have in common are that most people recognize they are essential but no one wants one close to their house.
I’ve never thought prisons were the most desirable industries a community could have, but in some towns in Mississippi they are viewed as an economic boost, and they do provide jobs.
The irony, though, is that prison job openings are going begging in Mississippi, especially when it comes to the state-owned facilities.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections, which has been plagued with multiple problems in recent years, is currently hoping to hire another 250 correctional officers and 80 probation and parole agents, spokeswoman Grace Fisher said.
In case you are interested, starting pay for a probation/parole agent is $37,185 per year and for a probation/ parole agent trainee it’s $31,567.82. Starting pay for a correctional officer trainee is $27,149 annually.
Like school teachers, they are underpaid.
Earlier this month it was reported that nearly 150 Vermont inmates housed in the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility tested positive for COVID-19.
Vermont — which obviously isn’t as much into the prison industry as Mississippi — had farmed out more than 200 of its prisoners to the private prison in Tutwiler.
Maybe there are worse places in the United States for a prisoner from Vermont to be sent to catch COVID-19 than the Mississippi Delta.
But you can’t help but feel some sympathy for someone used to the Vermont climate being sentenced to a summer in Mississippi. The temperatures up there, on the average, are about 10 degrees cooler in the summer.
Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were sentenced last week to federal prison for participating in a fraudulent scheme to help their daughters get into the University of Southern California as phony crew team recruits.
Loughlin, who was sentenced to only two months in jail, was also ordered to serve 100 hours of community service and pay a fine of $150,000.
Despite what some have said, no prison is as nice as a country club. But the good news for the good-looking actress is she’ll at least serve her time in a federal prison, probably in California, and not one of our facilities in Mississippi.