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MTC Returns $5.125 Million to Mississippi for “Ghost Workers” at Private Prisons

Utah-based Management & Training Corporation (MTC) announced on September 18, 2023, that it returned $5.125 million to the Mississippi Department of Corrections (DOC), after a state investigation found the private prison operator understaffed lockups operated for DOC.

As PLN reported, Mississippi Auditor Shad White submitted a civil demand in November 2022 for $1.9 million that he said MTC owed for shortstaffing Marshall County Correctional Facility (MCCF) from 2017 to 2020, leaving some 12,000 shifts filled with “ghost workers.” Meanwhile an analysis by the nonprofit Marshall Project found the firm owed as much as $7 million it had collected for more “ghost workers” at both MCCF and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility (WCCF). [See: PLN, Jan. 2023, p.58.]

MTC then launched an internal audit at WCCF and the other prison the firm operated in the state, East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF), according to Communications Director Emily Lawhead, leading to the refund. DOC took over operation of EMCF in September 2021 from MTC, which was having trouble hiring and maintaining employees at the prison near Memphis because it was unable to bump pay rates above those in its other two more rural lockups, according to DOC Commissioner Burl Cain. He then raised the rate paid at the prison to $15 hourly.

With its payment to DOC, the firm claimed it had cleared its debts from all three prisons. But White said his investigation was ongoing, insisting: “Every penny must be accounted for.”

As PLN also reported, MTC was accused in November 2022 by nonprofit Latino Justice of scamming over $5 million from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice by forcing prisoners to sign for rehabilitation programming they never received and billing the state for it anyway. [See: PLN, May 2023, p.23.] However, an investigation by the state Board of Criminal Justice Internal Audit Division determined there was no fraud because TDCJ was complicit in allowing MTC to make these contractual “modifications.”

“[W]hile not conventional,” investigators allowed, the practice permitted “the continuation of pre-release programming and release to parole during the pandemic.”  


Sources: AP News, The Marshall Project, Texas Tribune, Vicksburg Daily News

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