Walnut Grove struggles to rebound after losing jobs and money wi - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Walnut Grove struggles to rebound after losing jobs and money with privately run prison closing

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
LEAKE COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A privately run prison in Walnut Grove, with a history of inmate abuse, has officially closed.  MDOC officials said the decision was based on budget constraints and the prison population.

Some people across the state are pleased about the closing because it has been under federal court oversight since 2012, after a judge found abusive conditions, but many who live and work in the small community are upset and worried because they say this prison was a big revenue driver for the town.

“Basically, the only job was working at the prison because everything else here is closed,” said a Walnut Grove Resident.

For more than a decade,  the correctional facility poured more than $600,000 into the town through sales and ad valorem taxes as well as utility payments.

“You can see now it's a dead place,” said a Walnut Grove Resident.

Small businesses like Urban Country Kitchen are feeling crippled from the closing..

“We have not been impacted by the correctional officers, but however, by the bills going up; the water bill, the sewer and trash is going up because of the prison and a lot of people are losing their jobs,” said business owner Kashia Zollicoffer.

City officials say what will happen to the correctional facility is still unknown, but they're hoping the state will open and run it.

Until then, Good Samaritan, agent Jeremey Belk and his Eighth Judicial District Drug Court group, created a food bank to make sure no one goes hungry.

“We had a lot of people asking for help on Facebook and we had families that have fell on hard times," said agent Jeremy Belk. "One particularly family lost their home.” 

MDOC officials say the 900 inmates  that were housed at the Walnut Grove facility  have now been moved to state-run prisons across Mississippi.

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