Commissioner Pelicia Hall, Department of Corrections
 

ROTARY CLUB OF JACKSON (RCJ) MEETING
Monday, April 23, 2018

 

Brooks Buchanan, Rotary president and assistant general council, C Spire, called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone.  The invocation was given, the pledge of allegiance and four-way test were recited and guests and visiting Rotarians were welcomed.
 

All are invited to attend the Rotary District conference June 7 – 10. For more information and to register go to http://rotary6820.org/event/district-conference.
 

Dean Jim Rosenblatt, Mississippi College School of Law, introduced Commissioner Pelicia Hall, Department of Corrections.  MDOC has the second largest budget of all state agencies in Mississippi, $347.85M in 2018 and $334.80M in 2019.  Hall introduced her staff that she brought with her to the meeting. 

 

MDOC has several institutions statewide, Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility and the South Mississippi Correctional Institution. They have 19,279 incarcerated and 26,538 under community supervision. The oldest is 88 and the youngest is 15 years old. The average male is 38 and the average female is 37.  Males make up about 92 % of the prison population and females 8%.

Hall is passionate about rehabilitation. They have many vocational programs, some of which include sewing garments, making their own uniforms, welding, working in a print shop and a horticultural program where they grow tomatoes.  They also clean surgical spools for Johnson and Johnson. She invited us to take a tour of their facilities.  The adult programs include getting a GED, even though it is not mandatory as it is in federal programs.  They offer alcohol and drug treatment.  They have a pre-release program at all three state institutions that starts 180 days prior to their being released.  This includes anger management, conflict resolution, technology use, since technology changes so rapidly.  They want to help those released to be successfully reintegrated into their families, letting them know they are not forever condemned because of their crime for which they have done time.  They do get a second chance.  They visit with their families, and they are able to participate in faith-based activities such as choir and band by partnering with local churches.

The old way of doing corrections is not the right way of doing corrections.  They must meet the needs and try to help those released stay on the right path by going to their jobs and sometimes acting as their mother and father.  They must do all they can to reduce recidivism and keep those released out of the system with hopes they can be invited back to tell their story. 

They would like to have more employers willing to partner with DOC and give second-chance employment to those released.  There is a reduction in recidivism at this time.  In 2015 it was 40% and it is now 36%.  They are periodically tracking the results of all new programs to see if they are working.  She hopes to show much progress in the next three years.