Former Adams Co. Prison employee: 'It was just a matter of time' - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Former Adams Co. Prison employee: 'It was just a matter of time'

© Law enforcement on the roof of Adams County Correctional Center Sunday night. © Law enforcement on the roof of Adams County Correctional Center Sunday night.
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

"It was just a matter of time," said a former Adams County Correctional Center employee.

A male employee who worked at the facility for one year said he was not surprised when he heard the news of the inmate riot that broke out Sunday night, killing one guard.

He said did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation from gangs with members inside the prison - or from Corrections Corporation of America - which is contracted to run the federal facility.

"There was talk among employees there in general that you know sooner or later something bad's going to happen," said the employee.

He says he came forward because 24-year-old Catlin Carithers, the guard that was killed in the prison riot Sunday was his friend.

"He was a good guy, he was really soft spoken, always smiling, always happy, always had something nice to say to everybody including the inmates."

He says since January the prison has gone on lockdown three times.

"The entire prison goes on lockdown because to try and keep the peace. The prisoners refuse to go back in to their specified housing units to be counted and they negotiated for them to get back in. If I had to guess, that's probably what happened yesterday and it just went south," he said. "Every time that I was there and it happened, it would happen on a Saturday or a Sunday because you had minimum staff there... they probably weren't able to get the prison locked down fast enough."

He says the prison is understaffed.

"On a night shift you may have 26 employees and 2500 inmates."

And alleges the facility is overcrowded, with 2,567 beds, he said there are likely many more prisoners. "If I had to guess there's probably more inmates than that there - because I know one time when I worked there was over 2600."

More than 400 inmates over capacity. He says guards would talk about how dangerous the prison was.

"They're constantly hiring people, but people are constantly quitting just because a lot of it has to do with safety issues, a lot of people don't feel comfortable," the former employee said. "You're on a unit with one other person, one other guard, with you know 500 inmates."

A facility spokesperson has said the low-security prison houses illegal immigrants who reentered the country after deportation.

He says all inmates were internationals but, from paperwork he saw while employed at the facility, some of the men held at the prison have been convicted of dangerous crimes.

"Criminals, I mean hard criminals - gang bangers, drug dealers, murderers, rapists that are doing time, who have been sent to a minimum security prison like the one in Natchez to finish out their time, then they will be deported."

CCA spokesman Steve Owen said the prison does not respond to anonymous accusers, but said in an email that the company provides all employees with "multiple means to communicate concerns or greivances" and encourages all former and current employees to "pursue those appropriate avenues."

In response to allegations that the prison is overcrowded and understaffed, Owen said: "The facility maintains a population that falls within the contracted capacity requirements of the Federal Bureau of Prisons."  CCA refers questions regarding demographics - who is held in the prison and the number of inmates and staff - to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Owen said.

Copyright 2012 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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