PEARL, Miss. (WJTV) – Leaders with the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) announced construction is now underway on a chapel at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility (CMCF) in Rankin County.

Commissioner Burl Cain was joined Friday by MDOC staff, supporters, and inmates who shoveled dirt toward the construction of a 6,400-square-foot interfaith chapel. The chapel is expected to be completed in February 2023.

The chapel, which will be located near the facility’s 720 unit, will hold religious services for up to 300 inmates at a time.

“This is a component of moral rehabilitation which is essential to having practical and honest re-entry. You must have the moral component. We can teach people skills and trades, but if we’re not careful, we just make a smarter criminal,” Cain said.

The new chapel at CMCF is the first construction of seven chapels planned at MDOC facilities, all funded through private donations. Officials expect to return to the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman to resume efforts toward a chapel there after a delay, and then move toward a chapel for South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Greene County.