A Strong Partnership in A Small Town in Southern Mississippi
The Wilkinson County Correctional Facility, by its very presence, has a huge impact upon Woodville, Mississippi, where it is located, and the surrounding area.
“We are the largest employer of the county,” states facility warden Jody Bradley. But the economic benefits of the MTC-operated facility go beyond employment opportunities.
Deborah Randall is the vice president of lending at the town’s United Mississippi Bank. “We have lots of revenues generated by the facility, by products and services purchased in our community.”
A county park in the area is one of the finest of its kind. The funds to build, expand, and maintain the park come from the correctional facility. Ms. Randall continues. “This was built with tax revenue that was provided by the facility being here, and they have become a very big part of our community. Without them, we would not have had this beautiful park here. We did not have anything like this before.”
While the Wilkinson County facility is grateful to support the local economy, Warden Jody Bradley and his staff know that nurturing a strong community partnership is much more than contributing economically.
“When we took the facility over and assumed management in 2013,” says Warden Bradley, “there had been some infrastructure issues that created a separation, if you will, between the community and the facility. One of the reasons that I liked coming to MTC was the commitment that they had made to doing some things in the MTC way, if you will.”
Wettlin Treppendahl is the president of CM Treppendahl & Sons, Inc., the owner of the local grocery story.
“Jody has really bent over backwards to try to make this facility a local facility. They are active in any kind of function. We have a deer and wildlife [festival]; they help with the cookoff, they participate, and you see them walking around town. They’re just wonderful people.”
“They’ve got my cell phone number,” Warden Bradley adds. “They pick up the phone and call me and say ‘what about this?’. But I can do the same thing. If I need something, I need to reach out to someone, I say ‘hey, can you check on this for me?’. It’s great, small town America.”
“They’re very much a good corporate citizen,” says Ms. Randall, “it’s wonderful to have them here, and they have just been a part of our area for a good many years now. So, they kinda just blend in, and they’re here with us and part of us.”
The programming efforts provided by the facility, in the hopes of improving the lives of those incarcerated, is something else not lost on the community. “It effects people in they way that they know that there are good things going on behind those walls,” adds Ms. Randall.
Mr. Treppendahl talks about the value of prison programming.
“They [inmates] have learned a business skill, or a carpenter skill, or computer skill. They can come back, and they can go out into the free world and say, ‘hey, I can do something.’ And I think that Jody has emphasized and let us as community people, community leaders understand that, and we understand the benefit that it is.”
The good hearts of the Woodville area are quick to recognize the impact of the facility on the community; and they’re just as quick to reach their hearts out to the men who live inside.
“Most of the folks here in our area,” says Ms. Randall, “actually have them on our prayer list everyday. We do think about them because they’re people just like everybody else, and, you know, we just feel like they’re a part of our community.”