Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves visited the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman and another state prison on Thursday after a surge of violence in the state’s prison system left several inmates dead or injured.
Reeves, joined by Interim Corrections Commissioner Tommy Taylor, called the situation a “leadership crisis” and said the new commissioner had put measures into place to restore order.
“These problems did not spring up overnight, and they will not be solved overnight, but the necessary work has begun. The lives and dignity of all within this system must be protected,” Reeves said.
The state said several measures had been deployed to protect the safety of officers and prisoners.
Teams were in place to improve conditions at Parchman, state officials said in a release, and wardens and deputy wardens were placed on 12-hour shifts. Guards will be screened for signs of gang affiliation, and some prisoners are being relocated from Parchman.
A system also is in place to block signals of contraband cell phone in Parchman. State officials said cell phones had been used by inmates to coordinate across prison systems.
Reeves has selected an agent from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations to Parchman to conduct a criminal investigation and attempt to”root out any criminal activity by prisoners or employees.”
Since late December, 10 inmates have died across the state.
Rappers Jay-Z and Yo Gotti have been outspoken on the situation. A rally is planned in Jackson Friday.