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Governor Announces Steps to Restore Order at Parchman

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Governor Announces Steps to Restore Order at Parchman
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Governor Tate Reeves Discussing State Penitentiary at Parchman
Justin Hill, MPB

Rallies over the deaths of inmates and living conditions at a troubled Mississippi prison continue as the governor announces steps to restore order. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.

After visiting Parchman Penitentiary Governor Tate Reeves shared his thoughts about the conditions there.

"First we're working to improve the conditions there. In a lot of places it's not good. They're terrible. I saw it myself today," said Reeves.

Since late December, at least 10 inmates have died in state prisons during recent riots. Eight died at Parchman. Reeves announced six steps to restore order including sending in maintenance teams to improve physical conditions at Parchman, putting all managers on 12-hour shifts and cracking down on contraband cell phones.

"These phones have been illegal for years but they've been snuck-in, and they're being used to conduct gang activity throughout the Mississippi system and even throughout the country," said Reeves.

The governor says the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agent on site at the prison is screening guards for gang affiliations. He talked about relocating some inmates to Walnut Grove a facility that was closed in 2016, but is in better shape. Sharon Brown is with the Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition. She says the cellphones aren't the problem. Brown's concerned about the living conditions of inmates.

"Moving the prisoners to Walnut Grove they can tap into the pool of employees, former employees within that area, and bring them on board and start training them and you move 50 inmates at a time and get them out of those deplorable living conditions," said Reeves.

Governor Reeves says they're also look at housing and jobs within Parchman for those who aren't violent. JZ's charity is expected to lead a rally at the capitol today.