Advocates for prison reform in Mississippi head to the capitol today to call for closing a troubled facility, ahead of the governor's state of the state address. MPB's Desare Frazier reports on a recent rally that brought nationally known artists to Jackson.
Chanting shut it down, several hundred people are at the state capitol demanding Parchman Penitentiary be closed. Recent riots at Mississippi prisons shed light on the poor conditions at Parchman, including no running water and plumbing that doesn't work. Meridian native and rap artist Big K.R.I.T. says he saw pictures inmates took on social media.
"I didn't feel like a song that I could put out would change anything, that I actually had to learn, actually be here, and actually use my brand to bring awareness because we are in Mississippi and sometimes things like this happen. It's not on mass media and people don't know about it," said K.R.I.T
Jay Z's Roc Nation and the Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition organized the event. Ten people have died since late December in state prisons, eight of them at Parchman. Governor Tate Reeves recently announced steps to restore order. They include confiscating cellphones, screening guards for gang affiliation and repairing the facility. Sharon Brown with the coalition says she receives calls from inmates about prison conditions.
"We are here to uplift the cries of our brothers as they cry out right now ask we speak, they have no water, they have no food," said Brown.
People here are calling the governor's steps a bandaid that won't solve the prison's problems. Dania Diaz is with Roc Nation.
"We're talking about order when it really should be about providing aid. We've gotten reports of just vile conditions unfit for any human being, any life form to be in," said Diaz.
Diaz says they've filed a lawsuit on behalf of 29 inmates at Parchman. A Mississippi attorney has also filed two lawsuits.