Friday, a large protest is expected at the Mississippi State Capitol pushing for prison reform. It’s in response to nearly a dozen inmates who have been killed or died by suicide at state prisons in just the last four weeks.
Thursday, Mississippi’s new governor, Tate Reeves, visited the highest security prison at Parchman to personally inspect what some are calling inhumane conditions.
Governor Reeves simply told reporters during a press conference the conditions are not good and are terrible. Governor Reeves says the prisons in Mississippi are the first priorities since he’s taken office but he says it won’t be fixed overnight.
“In the last 24 hours, I have visited both the Walnut Grove facility as well as Parchman with Commissioner Taylor,” Governor Reeves said. “First we are working to improve the conditions there. In a lot of places they are not good. There’s no other word for it, they are terrible. I saw it myself, today.”
Eight inmates have died in Parchman just within the past couple of weeks. Governor Reeves says he has appointed an agent from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations to conduct a criminal investigation into the problems there.
“We deployed maintenance teams from across the state of Mississippi to immediately begin work to improve the conditions at Parchman. We’re bringing senior leadership to the front lines,” Governor Reeves explained.
Activist Mac Freddie is heading to Jackson Friday morning to rally for change.
“Stopped up toilets, running water through the hallway, trash everywhere, you’ve got guards attacking the inmates, inmates hanging themselves you know sleeping on the floor, it’s disgusting there,” Freddie said.
Governor Reeves says several changes have already been implemented which include bringing senior leadership to the front lines, cracking down on contraband and screening prison guards for gang ties.
“Day by day we are making progress,” Governor Reeves said.
He mentioned part of the solution is raising wages for correction officers who are under challenging circumstances. He promises to be transparent on the process.