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No More Deaths at Private Prisons in Mississippi

This petition had 50 supporters

On May 20, 2012, there was a riot at the Adams Correctional Correctional Center (owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)) in Natchez in which an officer was killed (he was called in to work on his day off). The national spotlight was once again on Mississippi due to an incident at a private prison. Earlier this year, a federal lawsuit was settled due to horrific conditions at Walnut Grove formerly operated by Geo. And these are the incidents that made national headlines. There have been numerous incidents (and inmate deaths) at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility (also owned by CCA where I worked) that have gone unknown to the national media. I was terminated in August 2009 for going on the clock to get my high blood pressure medication but the REAL reason I was fired was because I complained about the dangerous working conditions (low pay, being understaffed by 100 officers, under trained) and low morale at TCCF (I documented other employees doing the same thing with worse track records than mines but they still work there). Despite years of contacting various officials at the local (Tallahatchie County Board of Supervisors, Tallahatchie County Correctional Authority, state legislators Robert Huddleston, Willie Simmons and David Jordan), state (Mississippi Dept. of Corrections (MDOC) Commissioner Christopher Epps, Haley Barbour, Phil Bryant, Tate Reeves) and federal (Bennie Thompson, EEOC) level I have been stonewalled as far as bringing attention to my situation as well as the dangerous conditions at TCCF (and other facilities in Mississippi). Congressman Bennie Thompson PERSONALLY visited TCCF on December 31, 2010 and saw these conditions for himself and was horrified (yet has done nothing to help the people at TCCF). MDOC Commissioner Christopher also has received numerous complaints and calls over the years about multiple reports of sexual harassment, racial slurs being used by white staff members against black officers and CCA employees in the military being fired upon their return home. Mr. Epps responded by removing the person employed by MDOC to monitor TCCF in Tutwiler regarding the operation of the prison and removed them from the prison (turning a blind eye)

Because of my efforts to get my job back and bringing local media attention to what's happening at TCCF, I went from being promised my job to being blacklisted to working at any of the company's 60+ facilities (despite proof that the company violated many of their own policies and getting rid of paperwork to cover up their wrongdoings). I am not the only person who has been wrongfully terminated (dozens have been wrongfully terminated for similar reasons but no one was rehired despite a meeting set up by a representative of Bennie Thompson and the TCCA president with CCA to "hear our side of the story". There was NO ONE else present during this meeting but three vice-presidents representing the company and the terminated individuals).

The Tallahatchie County Correctional Authority (TCCA), whose job is to monitor whether the contract entered between Tallahatchie County and CCA is being honored, does NOT hold regular public meetings (as required by law under the Open Meetings Act in Mississippi) and when those meetings are being held, they are not known to the public (another violation of the Open Meetings Act). The last meeting held in which the public knew about was August 26, 2010 (almost two years). The best way to keep the public uninformed (and employees from voicing the truth and the broken promises by TCCA and CCA) is to hold unannounced meetings at times inconvenient for most individuals.

I am starting this petition to bring attention to the situation not only at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility but all private prisons operating in Mississippi and to hold EVERYONE accountable for turning a blind eye to the situation. I DO NOT want anymore officers assaulted or killed while the elected officials who are supposed to be looking out for the welfare of Mississippi residents continue to collect campaign contributions from these prisons and say nothing (Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and Congressman Bennie Thompson ALL have received campaign contributions from private prison companies operating in Mississippi). TCCF is operating 50-100 officers short daily working with the MOST dangerous inmates in the United States (California) and despite numerous complaints and letters to Bennie Thompson and MDOC commissioner Christopher Epps, I have been stonewalled. I also want TCCF to be placed under lockdown until the facility is properly staffed and equipped. Current employees are scared for their lives and fear a repeat of the Adams County Correctional Center situation will occur at TCCF because of numerous recent incidents.

By signing this petition, this will force the state of Mississippi and Congress to not only hold these private prison companies accountable for their actions but the public officials who have allowed these corporations to operate within the state with little opposition. I have accepted that the chances of getting my job are slim but if I can start the path to change, I will accept my fate as long as said change occurs (and that will lead to retribution and monies down the road owed to us affected by our wrongful terminations).

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