MARSHALL COUNTY, MS (WMC) - Since the WMC Action News 5 investigators started asking questions about security at a north Mississippi prison after a guard attack and fire, our newsroom phones have been ringing off the hook.
Former employees say they want to set the record straight over a facility they call unsafe.
WMC5 has talked to five former employees at this point about their experiences at the Marshall County Correctional Facility.
Many of them didn't want to speak on camera or wanted their identities hidden for safety's sake.
We first started asking questions of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and the prison’s operator Management and Training Corporation after video surfaced last week, matching the description of a guard attack and fire at the premises on April 3.
We've tried finding out how many guards or correctional staff were on duty and how many are required to be on duty to no avail.
Government sources have indicated to WMC Action News 5 that low staff levels could be to blame for the incident.
Tuesday, we spoke with former employee Ciera Rogers, and she says she worries about the safety of staff and the inmates.
Rogers worked at the Marshall County Correctional Facility until she was terminated in August 2017.
“I have family that works inside of there and I worry daily each time they enter the doors,” Rogers said. “Hope they come back out of the way they enter.”
She was part of the first crop of employees put to work when Management and Training Corporation started running the prison for the Mississippi Department of Corrections in 2012. Rogers said she was paid roughly $11 an hour.
“I’ve been in there when there's been riots and I've experienced it all,” Rogers said. Rogers says she wasn't surprised by video that surfaced last week from inside the prison.
The Clarion Ledger newspaper in Jackson obtained cell phone video from an inmate, who described the fire to the paper as a “horror film.” Cell phones are banned behind bars.
“Maybe three to four people come in sometimes at the max for a prison of 1,000,” Rogers said.
In the past days multiple former employees have reached out to WMC Action News 5, all saying a handful of staffers are responsible for patrolling the prison, which includes maximum security wings.
“We would have people call in because they were so tired from working doubles,” Rogers said.
We obtained a copy of the contract between the Mississippi Department of Corrections and Management and Training Corporation. The state redacted portions that stipulated employee staffing levels without detailing why.
Rogers says she believes last week’s incident is finally shining a light on problems within the facility that have persisted for years. She said the lives of staff members and inmates are at stake.
“Everybody’s life is in jeopardy,” Rogers said. “Everybody’s life. So I hope something is done behind all of this.”