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Why did prison officials use a state plane to interview an inmate in Tennessee? They won’t say. 

Officials with the Mississippi Department of Corrections used the state airplane last year to travel to Tennessee to interview a Mississippi inmate about an urgent threat to a public official, but the state agency declined to provide any details about the flight. 

Airplane records obtained through a public records request show MDOC officials flew from Jackson to Blountville, Tennessee, on June 22, 2023, to interview Gary Davis, a Mississippi inmate being housed in Tennessee, about “an emergency security issue that involves a specific threat to the life and safety of a public official.” 

Kate Head, a spokesperson with MDOC, declined to answer questions about why Mississippi was housing an inmate in Tennessee, what type of threat someone made, whom the threat was directed toward and why the agency believed the threat required the use of the aircraft. 

“This situation deals with prison security,” Head said. “The agency is unable to discuss it.”

The flight, according to the records, cost taxpayers $4,554. The state’s Office of Air Transport Services allows the governor, other statewide officials and agency leaders to use the airplane for official state business. 

The purpose of the aircraft is for state employees to conduct business on behalf of Mississippi or to benefit the state, according to a policy listed on the Department of Finance and Administration’s website. The policy does not define official business or include examples of what type of travel is prohibited. 

It’s unclear why prison officials housed Davis in the Tennessee town that’s close to the Virginia border. 

Corrections Commissioner Burl Cain told radio station SuperTalk Mississippi in an interview on April 19 that the agency tries to break up networks of prison gangs by swapping supposed gang leaders with other states. 

“We’re swapping with other prisons – those gang leaders,” Cain said. “Then, they’re at zero when they get there. They may be the king they think here. We just clipped their wings and they’re gone.” 

The agency’s website says a Gary Davis is currently serving a prison sentence over aggravated assault, manslaughter and armed robbery convictions, that he is housed at a location in Virginia, and his prison location last changed in October 2023. It’s unclear if this is the inmate who prison officials interviewed in Tennessee. 


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