As the senior vice president of Corrections for Management & Training Corp. in Centerville, I'd like to tell the other side of a wire service story that appeared in The Tribune on June 7. The article ("Mississippi prison run by Utah company called 'barbaric' ") requires perspective that the Associated Press reporter failed to include.
The AP report details alleged mistreatment of inmates at a Mississippi facility in 2010-2011 and implicates MTC. However, we did not take over the facility until July 2012.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Corrections this week for alleged problems at a facility we have only operated for a short time: East Mississippi Correctional Facility. But this story needs perspective and context.
First, as the article mentions, we were not named as a defendant in this lawsuit. Second, MTC took over operation of this facility just 10 months ago. MTC was not the operator when the alleged incidents originated. We were hired by the state to turn the facility around and already have made significant improvements and we continue to do so. Here are just some of the improvements we have made:
• An independent health inspection in April 2013 showed no signs of infestation.
• Offender-on-offender assaults decreased 74 percent from the prior year.
• Use-of-force incidents have decreased 60 percent from the prior year.
• The facility employs 52 medical and mental health professionals. In addition to the doctors and nurses employed through the medical contract, MTC hired an additional two psychologists with doctorates as well as 10 counselors to help offenders with mental health concerns.
• MTC has developed 45 educational and vocational classes for inmates. More than 700 are enrolled in these programs. These classes include Adult Basic Education, GED, literacy, anger management, life skills, computer technician, and facility maintenance, to name a few.
I could go on. MTC has been in business for more than 30 years because we deliver sound results to the at-risk populations we serve. We do the right thing. We have been successful in helping offenders get effective programing that keeps them out of prison. We are proud of the work we do.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections recently hired MTC to operate all of its private facilities. We were brought in to improve overall conditions at these facilities including confinement, segregation, and mental health. During our short partnership with the state, we have made significant improvements and we will continue to do so.
Odie Washington is MTC's senior vice president of corrections.