The families of inmates in Mississippi’s prisons say corruption is placing their loved ones at risk. They’re asking a state task force to help reform the state system.
Elaine Evans nephew Bruce died while serving his sentence in a Mississippi prison. She believes it was because of poor medical treatment.
"When he began serving his term at the Pearl facility he was 45 years old, his diabetic conditions was moderate but controlled," says Evans. "His blood sugar was seldom checked. The guards and kitchen staff sold of bartered the inmate’s food for favors. As time went by, Bruce's diabetic condition worsened because of the lack of proper nutrition and exercise. His kidneys failed."
Evans shared the story of her nephew's death at public hearing held by the governor’s task force examining corruption at the Department of Corrections. During the meeting families shared stories of how their loved ones were beaten, mistreated or forced to commit crimes for other inmates.
Task force member, Former Attorney General Mike Moore says the commission has been hearing similar stories across the state.
"There seems to be some corruption in how the money flows," says Moore. "These parents are having to put forth a lot of money to buy simple items like food and some of them feel like they're forced to buy cell phones which are illegal in prison. Also we heard about some in consistencies in sentencing; heard a lot about healthcare problems. It's clear that we can do a better job of how we're incarcerating individuals in Mississippi. No question about it."
Mississippi has the second highest incarceration rate in the nation.
The task force says it will recommendations on how improve the state’s correction system with the next few months.