JACKSON, Miss. (localmemphis.com) – Friday morning, hundreds of people are expected to turn out to a rally demanding changes throughout the Magnolia State prison system after nearly a dozen deaths, violence, and unrest in recent weeks.
10 inmates died in less than a month, eight at the Mississippi State Penitentiary also known as Parchman.
Those at the Mississippi Department of Corrections said some inmates were killed during riots and a statewide prison lockdown, other inmates died by apparent suicide. Those who oversee the prison said some of recent violence was gang-related.
Several of the 10 inmates who died had ties to the Memphis viewing area in north Mississippi, with families in Hernando, Holly Springs, and elsewhere.
At Friday’s rally, organizers are expected to demand those incarcerated be moved to a more humane facility and begin a formal process to shut down Parchman for good.
Groups planning to participate in the rally include Color Of Change, Until Freedom, Team Roc, REFORM, Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition, and formerly incarcerated people.
The rally’s release said: “The incarcerated men at Parchman have suffered through inhumane treatment by correctional officers, 24-hour lockdowns with no showers, clean clothes, & adequate water and mental abuse. No person deserves to live in the type of squalor. “We are taking action to demand that Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves & Department of Corrections take the necessary steps to solve the humanitarian crisis currently taking place at all Mississippi prisons.”
Thursday, Gov. Tate Reeves toured separate prisons and addressed reporters afterwards.
Gov. Reeves said he hired a Mississippi Bureau of Investigations to conduct a criminal investigation at Parchman and outlined these goals for the MS prison system moving forward:
- Improving conditions
- Bringing leadership to the front lines
- Cracking down on contraband cell phones
- Fixing guard screening
- Relocating prisoners
- Increased transparency
Gov. Reeves said: “I’ve been appalled by things that I’ve learned in the last week but proud of potential that I’ve seen for many of the people working to rebuild. I’m not here to make empty promises. The issues didn’t happen overnight & they won’t be fixed overnight. Discussions regarding status of prisoners at Parchman are ongoing & no final determination for a long-term solution has been made yet. All options are on the table.”
Local 24 News reporter Brad Broders will live tweet on his Twitter account @Local24Brad and recap the event on Local 24 News at 5PM.