“After over 36 years of service to Leake, Neshoba, Scott, and Rankin Counties Rep. Bennett Malone has retired today from the Mississippi House of Representatives. Thank you Representative Malone for your service to our State and leadership over the years for rural Mississippi.”
Representative Malone is not in good health and has served as Chairman of the Corrections Committee under then-Speaker of the House Billy McCoy.
Note: Good find by a reader in the comments section. This story about Malone's influence over corrections legislation appeared in the Clarion-Ledger last November:
During 2011 negotiations, then-Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said he couldn't get rid of Mississippi's private companies running prisons "because of all the money they spread around Jackson," attorneys told The Clarion-Ledger.
His remarks took place during the time when federal prosecutors say Epps was receiving more than $700,000 in bribes, including a beachfront condo.....
After being elected Hinds County sheriff, Malcolm McMillin remembered meeting at the Sun-n-Sand Motel with then-lawmakers McCrory and Phil Bryant, who were supporting legislation in the early 1990s for the state to take over running the jails and privatizing them.
Then-Gov. Kirk Fordice also supported the effort, McMillin said. "Some sheriffs wanted to be rid of the damn jails."
He was opposed to it.
The measure didn't pass, but private prisons did become a reality.
In 2002 or so, then-Corrections Commissioner Robert L. Johnson negotiated with Walnut Grove Correctional Facility, a private prison, for a per-inmate cost.
House Corrections Committee Chairman Bennett Malone of Carthage "was right up in the middle of the negotiations, which was highly improper, to increase the rate for Walnut Grove," he said.
Malone could not be reached for comment.
The facility was originally designed to hold inmates up to 18 years of age. Johnson wanted to keep that mission.
But Malone was instrumental in getting the law changed so inmates up to age 21 were moved there, tripling the prison population, Johnson said. "You can't throw a bunch of kids in there with hardened criminals."
As a result, corrections officials wound up with a "big mess," he said.