YAZOO CITY — Federal officials have proposed spending $28.4 million next year to run a high-security federal prison in Yazoo City. Local and congressional officials hope the prison will boost the region’s economy.
Federal justice officials tell The Clarion-Ledger construction of the 1,216-bed facility is nearly complete. They say it should be ready to open early next year.
Low- and medium-security prisons already operate 36 miles north of Jackson, in the same general location of the high-security prison under construction. Congress approved money in 2009 to build the $205 million high-security facility.
Yazoo City officials and Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the new prison should spur economic growth in the area.
It would be one of the largest employers in the city behind the school system and CF Industries, which bought Terra Nitrogen in 2010.
Yazoo City Mayor McArthur Straughter said federal officials have told him they plan to search locally for people to work at the prison.
The city’s unemployment rate was 8 percent as of December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The project is expected to create 416 positions, including 218 for correctional officers.
Congress must first approve the budget, and the push to cut spending could mean trouble for individual projects proposed in the president’s budget.
“Congress and the administration are facing a difficult budget cycle this year, but I hope we will be able to work cooperatively on the fiscal 2013 budget so that this funding request can be enacted,” Cochran said.
Straughter said he’s not worried.
“If you build it, you have to have funds to operate it,” he said.