Prison Lawsuit

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Attorney General Mike Moore says he wants to work outside court to settle a challenge to Gov. Ronnie Musgrove's plan to close a private prison in the Delta.

Prisoners' rights attorney Ron Welch filed a lawsuit this week in federal court in Greenville to prevent the closing of Delta Correctional Facility in Leflore County.

Specifically, Welch wants declared invalid Musgrove's attempted veto of a $54.7 million allocation to cover private prisons contracts.

Musgrove declared the private prison contracts void July 1 because lawmakers failed to override his veto in the spring, leaving the money unappropriated.

The Delta Correctional Authority says it will file a lawsuit in chancery court to stop the closure. The five-member board that oversees the Leflore prison voted to sue the state for breach of contract. Authority chairman Edgar Bland Junior says the board's main concern is the loss of 204 jobs at the prison.

Musgrove said if the case does go to trial, he wants someone other than Moore to represent him and the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Moore says he believes a settlement is possible.