A former corrections officer faces criminal charges that he brought a loaded .380 caliber weapon into the state penitentiary's Unit 32, the Mississippi Department of Corrections said Friday.

Marcus Fairley, one of two guards who reported finding the gun in the maximum security unit on July 17, has been fired, and corrections officials said he would be held at the Sunflower County Jail on a $100,000 bond.

Fairly had told The Clarion-Ledger in an earlier interview that he did not bring the weapon into the Delta prison. "I would be pretty stupid discovering a gun and bringing it in," he had said.

Corrections officials said in a statement that Fairley was initially employed as a correctional officer trainee on March 5. They said Fairley was cited for being in a confrontation with another officer on May 9, for abandoning his post at Unit 32 without permission from his supervisor on June 9 and for reporting late for duty on three separate occasions on June 14.

"Its sad that Fairley decided to take this route, but he made his bed hard so he will have to lay in it," Epps said in the news release.

"Despite Fairleys arrest, the public should commend and thank the honest MDOC staff who come to work daily for the citizens of this state." Epps said. "To the officers and staff who are filled with integrity and a respect for the law, I say thank you for your service."

Epps said the "apprehension of Marcus Fairley sends a strong message of our uncompromising resolve to eliminate illegal activity, and it serves as a forewarning to all. Rest assured our dedicated staff stands poised and ready to arrest anyone who attempts to compromise the security of our prisons."

The gun discovery brought increased scrutiny to Unit 32, the focus of ongoing legal action by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU sued the state in 2005, alleging inhumane treatment and unsanitary conditions at the unit that houses about 1,000 prisoners, including 65 male Death Row inmates.

There has been a fatal stabbing and an inmate's suicide in the unit this year.