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From Staff Reports
Officials at South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville are advising county residents to be on the lookout for a mass notification message planned for distribution later this month.
SMCI Superintendent Joe Errington told the Herald the mass notification will be sent on April 11 around 10 a.m. as a test of the prison’s new alert system.
“This will better enhance communication between the community and South Mississippi Correctional Institute,” Errington stated in a written statement. “In the event of an escape, this will ensure that the escapee is apprehended in a timely manner, and the citizens of Greene County will be notified immediately.”
Calls for an early alert system gained traction last summer after the escape of state inmate Michael F. Wilson, also known as “Pretty Boy Floyd,” in July 2018. Wilson was discovered missing at SMCI at approximately 12:48 p.m. The Greene County Sheriff’s Office said their dispatchers were notified of the escape at 1:27 p.m. MDOC spokesperson Grace Fisher told the Herald that prison protocol was followed and that officials at SMCI notified other law enforcement agencies after conducting “an emergency count to determine if indeed an inmate was missing”.
However, Wilson encountered numerous area residents during his escape and was able to hitch rides with unsuspecting residents as he managed to make his way from the prison into Leakesville, to Lucedale and eventually to the coastal counties. Area residents and community officials said at the time a better alert system would have put area residents on notice, protecting them from potential hazards, while also helping law enforcement with their search for the escapee.
The system is designed to send a message to every cell phone registered to the system or active within the county at the time the message is sent. This will allow visitors to the area or travelers making their way through the area to receive emergency notifications.
On April 11 area residents should expect to get a text message stating something like “this is a test of the SMCI Emergency Mass Notification System. In the event of an emergency, you would be given the details of the emergency in this message.”
Errington said he encourages all local residents to log into the system and register their cellular devices and home contact information to ensure they receive the notifications. This can be done by visiting the website https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/BF090A05C394.