As this pandemic continues, MPB is focusing on keeping you healthy, safe and informed now more than ever. Help us continue the work.

After a string of deaths, Mississippi prisons remain on lock

00:0000:00
After a string of deaths, Mississippi prisons remain on lock down
Email share
Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman
AP image

Mississippi prison systems remain on lock down after more than a week of violent behavior resulting in multiple inmate deaths and injuries. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.

Media outlets say an inmate was stabbed to death at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman Friday. That is the fifth inmate to be killed by another inmate since last Sunday, and the third at Parchman. According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, the fifth death is unrelated to the disturbances that occurred earlier in the week.

Lisa Graybill is the Deputy Legal Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"The epidemic of violence we've seen just in the last week is the completely foreseeable and preventable results of Mississippi's acute understaffing of its prisons and it's chromic failure to provide constitutionally adequate care," says Graybill.

Mississippi's prison system has struggled to fill guard vacancies, with outgoing Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall saying it's difficult to attract people with salaries starting a little over $25,000 a year. Hall recently announced that she will resign in mid-January to take a private sector job.

Hall says in a statement that investigators have been pursuing leads to determine what sparked the violence- confirming that some of the major disturbances are gang-related.

Senator Willie Simmons represents Sunflower county where Parchman is located. He says these kinds of incidents frighten the community.

"They become very concerned about whether not only individuals are going to be out of control within the system but whether they will be in a position where they can get into the community which creates danger for the local community if we have individuals who are dangerous escaping the systems," says Simmons.

Commissioner Hall says in addition to the lock down, the department has moved inmates at Parchman to more secure housing units on prison grounds to contain the violence.

Ashley Norwood, MPB News.