Congressman details alleged conditions at Mississippi's Parchman prison

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SUNFLOWER COUNTY, Miss. — Mississippi’s new governor, Tate Reeves, announced he’s searching for a new Department of Corrections prison director after weeks of violent outbursts that left at least five inmates dead.

Mississippi’s Department of Corrections has criticized by the community due to alleged unsafe and unsanitary conditions at state prisons.

Congressman Bennie Thompson sent two letters detailing the conditions — specifically at Parchman penitentiary —  to Fourth Circuit Court District Attorney Dewayne Richardson.

Read: Congressman Bennie Thompson’s letter describing conditions at Parchman prison

In one letter, he details a June inspection stating several of the cells at Parchman had no power, pillows, or mattresses. The report also shows black mold was found in one shower cell while another shower was used to store milk cartons.

“Mississippi has acknowledged the horrific conditions at Parchman for years but has failed to take any action,” Thompson wrote.

The family of one inmate agrees.

“This is bad. There is something that needs to be done about this,” said Angel Taylor, a family member of a Parchman inmate.

Thompson said last year, 80 inmates died in custody. However, he says it’s “impossible to obtain a precise number of deaths resulting from preventable harm because MDOC has failed to conduct or complete investigations into these deaths.”

He says understaffing is to blame.

“You got the guard at the gate who won’t even tell you nothing. Won’t even call anybody,” Taylor said. “Giving you the wrong number, telling you this is the number when it’s not the number.”

In a statement, commissioner Pelicia Hall, who’s resigned and is leaving the department this month, says the agency is experiencing “critical understaffing” and “needs at least 1,000 more officers.”

Hall says she’s been pushing for years to get more funding, but says Mississippi’s salaries are still the lowest in the country, starting at around $25,000.

Thompson says he hopes the complaints will warrant a grand jury investigation.

Below: A letter from Congressman Bennie Thompson with photos detailing conditions at Parchman prison. Click here if you can’t see.

Letter Inhumane Conditions at Parchman (002) (003) (Text)


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