The Senate Corrections Committee is considering a bill that would reauthorize the use of Walnut Grove Correctional Facility for offenders.

SB 2888 stems from renovations needed at the Mississippi State Correctional facility to Unit 29. During the September legislative budget hearing, MDOC Commissioner Pelicia hall requested $22.3 million for the renovations. At that same meeting, different options on where to house those inmates during the repairs were discussed, however financial reports were not available at that time.

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This bill, would mandate the use of Walnut Grove for offenders, which could have included those displaced during renovations, until Sen. Willie Simmons offered amendments.

Walnut Grove was originally opened in 2001, as a for-profit state run facility. At full capacity it housed just under 1500 residents. It later closed in 2016 after numerous civil rights investigations.

During the committee meeting, Senator Simmons offered two amendments to the bill after saying, “I think it’s a bad bill.”

The first would add language to prevent any offenders removed from the facility in Sunflower County, he also added any facilities in Southern Mississippi later on. He also requested language be added that any offender placed in Walnut Grove, who was taken from a public facility, be housed at 10% less cost than they were at other facilities.

The amendment passed.

MDOC Commissioner Pelecia Hall

Commissioner Hall was asked to speak freely on her opinion of the bill. She said that if the bill were to pass as is and require them to relocate offenders from the state penitentiary during renovations of Unit 29, it could compound costs significantly. She recommended more study be done on the financial implications of this mandate.

Sen. Simmons offered an amendment of a reverse repealer, which also passed. The committee passed the Committee Substitute.