A group of protestors are calling on the Mississippi Department of Corrections to share what they know about the deaths of 16 inmates in their custody. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.
Chanting about injustice, protestors are outside the Mississippi Department of Corrections office in Jackson. They want more information released about the deaths of 16 inmates, all who died during the month of August. They carried banners and accused Commissioner Pelicia Hall of being responsible for their deaths. Adofo Minka is the organizer.
"It's a pretty strong thing where 16 people have died under your watch in one month alone and you go on the Media and say that these deaths are on par with the rate of deaths that's regularly within the MDOC and if that's really a true statement that she made that's a big problem in itself," said Minka.
Hall did say the department believes the majority of the deaths are from natural causes in that they include cancer, coronary and other medical conditions. She's asked the FBI and the state department of public safety to investigate the cases. Jody Owens with the Southern Poverty Law Center has sued the state over conditions in some prisons. They're in the midst of one now over the lack mental and medical care at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility.
"Far too often the healthcare is not substantive, it's not real. We've had thousands of clients tell us that they're trying to get medical attention and help unsuccessfully," said Owens.
Governor Phil Bryant recently talked about the issue.
"I don't think there's any conspiracy. I don't think there's any common thread. It is just a fact of life that people are going to pass away. We're going to do everything that we can to find out what's going on with each and every one of them," said Bryant.
Protestors asked to speak with the commissioner. Law enforcement told them they would have to make an appointment.