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MDOC Budget 30-Million Short

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 25 Feb 2013 10:42pm | comments

The budget for the Mississippi Department of Corrections is 30-million dollars short for the current fiscal year. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the biggest cost driver is an unexpected increase in inmates.

Some 22-thousand convicts are currently being held in prisons around Mississippi.

Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps says the department underestimated how many offenders they would have to lock-up when it was given its budget during last year's legislative session.

"Every year we do a population projection. We contract that out. I am sure they do the best they can but it is a projection. And they projected a lpwer number than we received. And we received 1126 inmates," Epps said.

Epps says some more than 3-million dollars is need for improvements at state prison such as new locks, windows and roofs.

Mississippi ranks second in per capita incarceration and Epps says that is going to continue to increase the cost to the state.

"We are going to need 368-million for FY '14. As you already know we have a bill that is going through the Senate side that 31-million short and I have already sent letters to the leadership saying that is not going to do. And in addition to that, we are scheduled to grow by 700 inmates for this fiscal year," Epps said.

Corrections chairman George Flaggs of Vicksburg says the MDOC budget is one of the fastest growing in the state, and lawmakers should consider taking steps to decrease how many prisoners the state is holding.

"We have got to look at that. These people can be better served in the community, we are talking about drug offenders, they can be better served in the community and being monitored by an electric device costing 10-dollars a day rather than 40-dollars a day," Flaggs said.

However, Flaggs says the legislature will have to provide the commissioner with the money he says he needs because the prisoners now are already locked up.




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