Monday, January 20, 2020

Lawmakers Refused to Increase Parchman's Funding, Then Chaos Erupted

This article was authored by Jerry Mitchell and reprinted with his permission.

Understaffed, underfunded and plagued by gang violence, inmates in Mississippi’s Parchman prison have been living in deadly conditions that state lawmakers knew about for decades. Now, everyone is paying the price.


One prisoner strangled another to death while other inmates cheered the killing. Two convicts escaped a dilapidated building by walking out an open door. Maximum security detainees freely roamed hallways, beating and threatening others.


Violence has roiled the Mississippi prison system for more than a week, with state corrections officials imposing a statewide lockdown and a county coroner declaring that gangs in the prisons have launched an all-out war against each other.

At the center of the chaos: the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman — one of America’s most notorious prisons. Since July 2019, seven prisoners have been killed by fellow inmates at what is supposed to be the most secure facility in the state. That compares to four inmate killings in the prior eight years.

The current violence comes after years of neglect by state officials, who allowed conditions at Parchman to deteriorate when federal courts ended oversight of the facility in 2011, according to an investigation by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica.

Inmates described themselves as being prey to prison gangs who control the supply of contraband drugs and weapons, bedding, food and cellular phones. Photographs and videos reviewed by the news organizations show the most dangerous inmates, identified by their red-and-white striped uniforms, walking freely outside their cells, with no guards in sight.

A video purporting to show the killing of a Parchman inmate on Jan. 3 shows inmates shouting and cheering.

Parchman’s descent has put at risk the safety of corrections officers, the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars of Mississippi taxpayer funds, and the health of the inmates the state is charged with protecting, the investigation found.

Corrections officials last year failed to fill hundreds of positions available for guards. In a Sept. 6 email obtained by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, correctional officer Terrence Shaw told state lawmakers how dangerous it had become working in Unit 29, Parchman’s maximum-security unit.

A building at Unit 29 that should have at least five officers had only two, and some buildings had only one, he wrote. “The National Guard army should have been called in several years ago.”

“Staff morale is down, staff quitting left and right,” Shaw wrote. “All staff working deserve a pay increase that is fit to live.”

Inmates and experts alike say the current violence in no small part arises from the prison’s sheer state of disrepair. Building facilities — water, lights, sewage — are crumbling. The prison’s drinking water has violated the Safe Drinking Water Act dozens of times, and the Environmental Protection Agency has cited the prison’s sewage system for three years for violating the Clean Water Act, documents show. Parchman’s accreditation by the American Correctional Association, which sets standards for prisons across the country, lapsed in 2017.

Alger Retherford spent more than four decades behind bars at Parchman for murder and robbery. A member of the prison’s repair crew, he was released in May.

“We have come full circle, right back to 1975, the same conditions,” said Retherford, 62.

In response to the violence, Mississippi’s top prison official, Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall said she was working with sheriffs, private prison operators and others to make sure the prisons are as safe as possible, and she vowed that MDOC would pursue criminal charges “to the full extent of the law.”

Hall has also repeatedly asked the Republican-controlled Legislature for more money to hire guards and to fix up Unit 29, which replaced a different maximum-security unit that was closed down in 2010 in response to litigation filed by the ACLU. The request went nowhere.

This year, even before the outbreak of violence, Hall asked for an extra $78 million in funding — nearly a third of it to renovate Unit 29.

Unit 29 “is unsafe for staff and inmates because of age and general deterioration,” said Grace Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections, or MDOC, said last month.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee, which sets spending priorities for the state, is recommending that representatives reject the request and instead cut the total corrections budget by $8.3 million. What happens next will be up to the new Mississippi Legislature, which was sworn in Tuesday.

David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project, said it would be easy to write off what is happening as strictly a Mississippi story. Instead, he said, it’s an American story.

In state after state, he said, federal courts have intervened in prisons with high levels of violence, lack of proper health treatment and other woes, but when that oversight goes away, conditions get worse again.

“State officials complain about federal court, but that seems to be the way to maintain conditions of basic decency,” he said.

Fathi has no doubt that the current conditions at Parchman are unconstitutional, he said. “There’s no place for this kind of treatment in a civilized society.”

“Unfit for Human Habitation”

Parchman prison opened in 1901. Inmates lived in small camps and worked sunup to sundown in nearby plantation fields. By 1905, the state of Mississippi was raking in $185,000 every two years from harvests, the modern-day equivalent of more than $5 million.

The disciplinary system was infamous. Whippings came from a 3-foot-long, 6-inch-wide whip named “Black Annie.” Rather than hire more guards, prison officials often relied on favored inmates, known as “trusty shooters,” who often abused their power over fellow inmates, sometimes shooting and killing them.

In 1971, Parchman inmates filed a class-action lawsuit. A year later, U.S. District Judge William Keady concluded that “inhumanities, illegal conduct and other indiginities” corrupted the trusty system, that inmates’ quarters were “unfit for human habitation” and that they had been deprived of wholesome food, medical treatment and basic hygiene. He ordered improvements in health care and almost every aspect of prisoner life.

The landmark decision shut down the trusty system across the South.

In the years that followed, Keady continued his oversight, sometimes showing up unannounced at the prison. Mississippi spent more than $35 million to modernize Parchman, replacing the work camps with more than two dozen buildings surrounded by razor wire.

The reforms slowly took effect. In 2003, the American Correctional Association certified that Parchman met all modern standards for prison operation. In response to litigation brought by the ACLU, prison officials shut down Parchman’s notorious Unit 32, a violent supermax unit that a federal judge concluded suffered from unconstitutional conditions.

By 2011, the prison had turned a corner. After nearly four decades of court monitoring and an infusion of taxpayer dollars, new facilities had been built. Prisoner abuse had declined. A judge ended federal oversight, and Mississippi was once again entrusted with the care of its inmates.

“We felt like it was mission finally accomplished,” said Ronald Welch, a Jackson lawyer who represented the state’s inmates before the courts for much of that time.

Three years later, Chris Epps, the corrections commissioner at the time and a champion of prison reform, was arrested on bribery charges. Epps, a former Parchman guard who served as president of the ACA, pleaded guilty and is now serving nearly 20 years in prison.

By 2017, when Parchman’s accreditation lapsed, the facility was failing to meet basic industry standards, according to Robert Reeves, a certified ACA auditor who once served as manager of ACA compliance at South Mississippi Correctional Institution.

Reeves, who retired in 2016 and continues to communicate with MDOC employees, said staff members are not able to keep up with repairs in the facilities. Outside contractors hired by the agency have not made up the gap.

“They’re in such bad shape,” Reeves said of Mississippi’s corrections facilities.

Welch, the lawyer who monitored Parchman for 36 years, said the latest report and photographs show conditions much worse than before the federal court stopped monitoring.

If just a fraction of Parchman’s problems took place in a public building other than a prison, it would be shut down, he said. He called the prison’s conditions an “unbelievable nightmare.”

His assessment was echoed by J. Cliff Johnson, the director of the University of Mississippi’s MacArthur Justice Center, who regularly visits the prison.

“Parchman is held together with baling wire and bubble gum,” Johnson said. “We put facilities like Parchman in the middle of nowhere so that people don’t have to think about the humans inside those facilities or their inhumane treatment. We don’t want to hear about it. We don’t want to see it. We don’t want to think about it.”

“Quitting Left and Right”

In 2014, MDOC employed 1,591 correctional officers. Although the inmate population in state prisons has fallen slightly, the number of correctional officers has plummeted to 731 — a loss of more than half the workforce. Parchman is unable to fill its open positions. This year, the prison had the authority to employ 512 officers but hired only 261.

That figure is far below ACA accreditation standards, which require no more than a 10% vacancy rate in any 18-month period for correctional employees who work directly with inmates.

Hall, who plans to resign as corrections commissioner in mid-January, blamed the soaring number of job openings on low salaries. MDOC has asked the Legislature to increase starting pay rates from $25,650 annually to $30,640 at a cost of $2.79 million. But the Joint Legislative Budget Committee has recommended rejecting this proposal.

The shortage of staff has been accompanied by an increase in inmate deaths from unnatural causes.

On average, Parchman records about two inmate suicides per year. In 2019, five Parchman prisoners killed themselves, all in single-person cells, according to the coroner’s office.

Solitary confinement and a failure to check regularly on inmates in one-man cells increases the likelihood of suicide, experts say.

“In many prison systems, a majority of all suicides occur in solitary confinement, even though prisoners in solitary account for only a small proportion of the prison population, Fathi said.”

Seven inmates were killed by fellow detainees in the 13 months from January last year through the present month, according to the coroner. From 2011 to 2018, one prisoner was killed every 19 months on average.

On July 10, Jeffery Allen, 40, was beaten to death in the shower, according to the coroner. Less than a month later, Samuel Wade, 27, was strangled to death. Just before midnight on Nov. 12, Jeremy Irons, 31, was fatally stabbed by other inmates. The death took place after an argument over a $40 debt, according to inmates.

On Nov. 19, Michael Anderson, 26, who was serving a 10-year sentence for armed robbery, was fatally stabbed by other inmates, according to the coroner.

Anderson’s father, Robert Coleman, said his son, before his death, shared that a prison gang “wanted him to do something that he didn’t do” and that he wasn’t under the protection of his “brothers” anymore.

Another three homicides have taken place since the new year began.

One factor in the soaring number of deaths is that prison gangs have become a defacto replacement for the old armed trusties, according to some prison experts..

“We are talking to correctional officers who say that gang leaders are making decisions about who gets housed where,” said Johnson, of the University of Mississippi’s MacArthur Justice Center, whose office represents many prisoners in Parchman. “When people get ‘out of line,’ the severe, gang disciplinary system rules the day.”

Travis Arnold, sentenced to five years in prison in 2018 for statutory rape and failing to register as a sex offender, said he and other inmates have long felt unsafe because “there are not enough guards to protect us, and they never come around and check on us.”

Those fears became a reality when a gang war between the Vice Lords and the Gangsters erupted at Parchman and other Mississippi prisons, starting Dec. 29.

In an attempt to stem the violence, Parchman officials last week reopened notorious Unit 32, which had been closed in 2010 under the federal consent decree. Inmates subsequently shot a video there that shows standing water, mold, peeling paint and cells where there is no running water for sinks or toilets.

“This illustrates one of the shortcomings of litigation — sooner or later the lawsuit goes away, and defendants are then free to return to their old ways, unless and until a new lawsuit is filed,” Fathi said.

Video circulating on social media purports to show the Jan. 3 killing of an inmate. ProPublica could not verify the authenticity of the video with prison officials. Though officially banned, cell phones are widely available to inmates. Several inmates contacted said it appeared to show Parchman’s interior and details in the video match the coroner’s description of the circumstances of the death of one inmate.

In the video, an inmate can be seen standing inside a cell, dressed in the distinctive red-and-white pants worn by the most dangerous prisoners. The inmate repeatedly strikes another man in the cell with his fists. Loud shouting can be heard while an unnamed prisoner narrates the video: “They’re straight up hitting the m-----f---ers with knives and s---, beating them m-----f---ers up. They’re behind the cell while we’re on lockdown.”

A woman’s voice can then be heard, perhaps from a cell phone: “He has his own family.”

An inmate can be heard boasting:, “I’ve got him in a chokehold.”

Another inmate cheers him on, “Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. Dead. Oh, yeah. Dead. Deaaaaad.”

Despite the loud shouting throughout the incident, no officer can be seen responding.

A doctor pronounced Denorris Howell dead at 3:20 a.m., and authorities initially thought Howell was stabbed to death by his roommate.

But Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton later determined that Howell had sustained a fatal neck injury and that the blood stains on his clothing belonged to his roommate, who was also injured in the attack.

No charges have been filed, and MDOC officials have declined to comment.

Johnson called the video “the stuff of dystopian nightmares.”

“We take thousands of people and lock them up in hellholes where they are forced to fight for survival on a daily basis while they unravel due to the effects of mental illness, addiction, disease and constant fear,” Johnson said. “Events like this one are horrific not only because of the depraved behavior of the killers, but also because we as Mississippians have allowed this to happen, even encouraged it.”

“We all have blood on our hands,” he said.

Prisoners in the Dark

Mississippi Department of Health inspections from the past decade provided plenty of warning about the increasingly poor state of Parchman.

In 2012, one year after federal oversight ended, six inmates lacked mattresses or bedding in Parchman. Last year, more than 250 did — nearly 8 percent of the prison’s inmates.

In 2012, a dozen toilets for inmates in the prison didn’t work. Last year, there were 64.

The reports document holes in cell walls and prison doors; collapsing ceilings; broken commodes, sinks, drains and tiles; exposed wiring; and roaches and rats throughout the prison. One photograph in the reports shows birds eating off inmates’ food trays.

Unit 29, the maximum security building, was the focus of special scrutiny. The roof of the building, which houses the state’s death row inmates, has holes that let rain pour into the facility. Door and locks are broken. Inmates have bored holes in the building’s unreinforced concrete large enough to hide contraband weapons, drugs and phones, corrections officials have acknowledged.

The official reports are backed up by interviews, documents and photographs from prisoners inside Parchman and their family members. Some prisoners said they washed their prison uniforms in toilets after laundry service stopped. One prisoner said he fashioned homemade extension cords from stripped wires, using them to start fires and boil water in an effort to make it safe to drink.

At Parchman today, many inmates are living in darkness. The latest inspection shows at least 300 cells without lights or power — a stark contrast to 2012 when there were no cells without lights or power.

James Louis Manning, who was released from Parchman in June after serving time for grand larceny, said he had no light in his cell during his final year as a prisoner. “It wasn’t fixed before I left,” he said.

Lack of light in a prison can have serious consequences, said Eldon Vail, former corrections secretary in Washington state. Officers can’t check on prisoners to make sure they’re safe. Lengthy periods of darkness can cause stress and exacerbate mental illness.

Beyond the cells, many of Parchman’s dayrooms, where inmates gather, lack lighting.

“What officer would want to go into a dayroom with the prisoners out of their cells and
no lights?” Vail asked.

The latest inspection showed at least 43 places where electrical wires were exposed, making it possible for inmates to set fires or cause other damage. The inspection also shows some live wires near showers and water fountains.

Inmate Percy Dean III, who received an 11-year sentence for forgery in 2012, said dangers abound with “live wiring hanging over, under and on the sides of the steel beds in which inmates have to sleep.”

Parchman’s water and sewer system are creating hazardous health conditions, according to experts. The number of nonfunctioning sinks has ballooned from five in 2012 to 59 in the latest reports. One building had a single working shower for more than 50 inmates.

Although MDOC policy calls for each inmate to get three showers a week, inmates describe going weeks without the opportunity to clean themselves. In one month, Manning said he received a total of five showers, three of them in one week.

Since federal court monitoring ended in 2011, the Health Department has issued nearly 100 major violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act to Parchman, finding multiple toxic contaminants in the drinking water. Safety scores for water treatment have plummeted from 3.5 out of 5 in 2015 to 0.5 out of 5 in 2019.

Inmates have posted online images of brown or opaque water streaming from taps in their cells.

Retherford, the former inmate who was released in May, said he and other inmates who drank the water “were constantly getting stomach ailments. I got into the habit of boiling my water in the microwave.”

Fisher declined comment on the deficiencies found in health and environmental inspections. She downplayed the issues of discolored drinking water and said MDOC had fixed problems as they were reported. Brown water “comes out of my faucets at my homes in Jackson and in the Delta,” she said.

Revelations of Parchman’s conditions horrified former State Health Officer Dr. Alton Cobb. “If this state can’t afford to provide reasonable hygiene to inmates, that is ridiculous,” he said.

Prison advocates say what is happening at Parchman is too serious to be ignored any longer.

“They have to shutter that place,” said Kevin Ring, president of FAMM, a national criminal justice reform organization that has asked for a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. “People can’t live like that, let alone be rehabilitated.”

This article was produced in partnership with the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, which is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published.

Jerry Mitchell is an investigative reporter for the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization that seeks to hold public officials accountable and empower citizens in their communities. Email him at Jerry.Mitchell.MCIR@gmail.com and follow him on Facebook at @JerryMitchellReporter and on Twitter at @jmitchellnews.

The Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica are spending the year examining the state’s corrections system. We want to know what’s really happening behind the walls of Mississippi’s prisons. You can share your tips and your stories by emailing us at mississippi@propublica.org or filling out this form.


37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Once again, the knee-jerk reaction from the media is that more money will fix the problem. I agree that guards need to be paid more, but can we really afford to keep so many people in prison? I don't want to pay to incarcerate people for cell phones, or smoking dope. Let them sit at home and waste away, not on my dime.

Anonymous said...

Allocate funding to repair the facilities; use the inmates to reduce the labor costs. State saves money; inmates learn trade skills that can be used after release. Win, win.

Anonymous said...

Folks, that ain't fake news, and it's not media-spin. That's solid reporting based on research. Read it and weep.

Anonymous said...

Probably cheaper to build something new and modern than to remodel that place.

Anonymous said...

1. NO to more money. That’s just a patch, and, frankly, it’s lazy.

2. We need EXTREME reform, BUT society still needs to fear the consequences of bad actions. It can’t be a slap on the wrist. Fines won’t work, because poor folks (the socio group most affected) are unable to pay steep fines... they are just trying to survive.

3. Immediately install cellphone jammers at all prisons to begin snuffing gang-related enterprise. Gangs must become EXTINCT! The gang life is not “family.” That’s what’s wrong with those who buy in... they have no clue how true families function. “Family” shouldn’t beat the hell out of you or ask you to risk your freedom. That is NOT family.

4. We HAVE to find a way to deter young people from gangs. We MUST do better to maintain family structures. Single women MUST choose their existing children and STOP reproducing with every guy they date. The number of biological mothers and fathers in some family situations is outrageous!! (This goes for ALL races.)

5. Churches in the most affected communities need to STOP allowing the victim mentality, and must start helping their followers find sustainable lifestyles. Continued dependency on the government is NOT the answer!! People need skills to earn a living. Provide them skills, not handouts!

6. Everyone needs to STOP the race-hate hysteria. The few ignorant racists, on both sides, are much fewer in number... they are just the loudest! We need to stop entertaining the foolishness. It gets us NOWHERE!!

7. We must stop babying future criminals in the school systems. Punishment for bad behavior needs to STOP being called a race issue! Parents need to care whether or not their children are honest, productive members of society. HOPING or SAYING you did your part is NOT doing your part. We MUST do better focusing on and raising our children.

The most pressing prison and education problems are DIRECTLY related. Politicians need to get their heads out of their asses. Liberals need to stop screaming for more money and conservatives need to stop doing more of the same. It’s unreal what a political title does to a person’s common sense!!

Anonymous said...

Let out all non violent drug offenders. Problem solved. We don’t send the best and brightest to the capital folks. Those salaries aren’t enough either...

Anonymous said...

roaches and rice are good enough for those animals in parchman

Anonymous said...

It’s not about pay. You can raise the starting salary to $50,000 and get the same results. Until we build facilities that can operate efficiently we will just be throwing money in the wind.

Any inmate can tell you what counties not to commit a crime in because they don’t like that particular county jail! This is a jail where rules are followed and the Sheriff doesn’t allow inmates to rule shit!

I worked in a jail where inmates were ready to transfer to MDOC- Parchman when they receive their State time. They knew the rules were lax at MDOC and they could smoke and get contraband.

I once had an inmate tell me that if he had to go to jail it would be the Simpson County Jail because they cook from scratch.(real food from the garden not just throwed together, but good food like moms home cooking )

Money is not the real issue, a dirty, sorry, low life Correctional Officer won’t do diddly squat no matter how much you pay them.

My heart go out to the good Correctional Officers trying to do a decent job.

Macy Hanson said...

It is very hard to argue with you, 3:41. That would be a good start, at least. It also seems obvious that Parchman needs to be retired and a new facility(ies) need to be built to carry the load that Parchman now carries.

Anonymous said...

3:32 has many good points.

Anonymous said...

Retire Parchman and build a new facility to replace it?

Damn, what planet do some of you idiots live on?

This is the same mentality that says abandon the Jackson Zoo and build a new one.

Hell, its only $100 million to move the zoo - if the state were to 'start from scratch' and build a new facility to replace Parchman, it would cost more than 25% of the regular state budget - measured in the billions, not millions of dollars.

Just goes to show how much, or actually little, most folks know about what they will opine about.

The entire facility at Parchman is not in the terrible shape that some folks want to try to make it out to be - especially these "investigative reporters" that look where they want to and expand their findings to be universal.

A few other facts missing from Mitchell's (along with KF's endorsement) that are germane to the discussion. If KF followed the advice he often gives other 'reporters' he would do some investigation on his own before endorsing these other articles.

Maybe start with - what was the appropriation this past year compared to the previous year? Did it go down, as stated, or up?

Anonymous said...

Ask all the people who have had their cars and/or homes and/or businesses burglarized whether they think "all non violent drug offenders" should be immediately released from prison. Let all the victims of non-violent drug-related crimes vote on it before releasing these people back into society.

To 3:32, I agree with pretty much everything you wrote. Until all of that happens, and crime is virtually eliminated as a result, we must have a way to remove these people from society, i.e., prisons.

Anonymous said...

Mitchell pretends to be studying and reporting on prison safety. He starts this 'article' by stating Parchman is supposed to be the safest in the state.

My view of 'safety' at Parchman Farm is in evaluating how many convicts have ESCAPED over the past six months, not how many have killed each other.

Tell me how many have run off down highway 49 and we'll talk about safety. But, when you put hundreds of demented pigs in a common Hog Pen, they're gonna root-hog and die.

Anonymous said...

The Parchman-Angola style prison farm is still the most efficient way to manage a state prison. Farm work to feed themselves and work gangs to do public works projects keep the inmates busy and provide much needed maintenance help at the city or county level. The problems of the past were the mostly racist and cruel abuses of authority which made the whole system look bad. But without the abuses, the old system is better than putting men in rat cages, giving them nothing worthwhile or self-sustaining to do all day but contemplate more crime. Prison will never be pleasant and it shouldn't be, but it can make sense.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi's so-called leaders have never, never, understood the concept of "pay me now or pay me later". Or maybe they just don't care as long as the pay comes due on somebody else's watch. Pitiful.

Anonymous said...

KF offers to his readers various opinions, like Mitchell's, and that constitutes an "endorsement"? Help us all out and grow a brain.

Anonymous said...

@4:55

Have you read the Department of Health's 2019 report on Parchman? Based on your comments, I doubt that you have. If you would like facts instead of your opinion, click on the link.

http://www.msdh.state.ms.us/msdhsite/index.cfm/30,8340,118,pdf/MS%5FState%5FPenitentiary%5FInspection%5F2019%2Epdf

Oh, can you provide a link to the billion(s) dollar estimate to build a new prison? Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

Money will never solve this problem.

Starting at birth, many of these lil' angel babies are taught from "day one" that they aren't required to follow any societal rules.

Historically it's easy to blame LBJ.

But Hell, I doubt LBJ even saw these results coming down the pipe.

Anonymous said...

We need mental health care and drug rehab centers! Putting people in prison because we have no place else to house them is part of the problem. We need a way to get the mentally ill/addicted people help.

And you won't attract talented correctional officers if they can't make a living wage. If you have never been one then you have no idea what they have to go through. It is much tougher than most jobs and pays minimum wage.

Then we must reform the laws. The U.S. is losing the war on drugs. Legalize weed and let the dope heads pay their taxes and not have to purchase from dealers who fund cartels, trafficking and terrorism.

Lastly, the gangs run the show in many jails. This has to stop. Inmates should not be able to get phones, drugs and alcohol in jail but they do.

Anonymous said...

Don’t do the crime of you can’t do the time.

Boo Hoo.

The people in Parchman are not mischievous youth or shoplifters. They are the worst of the worst. Murders, rapists.

What needs to happen is NOT reform. All that means is code for letting out violent offenders and drug slingers.

Instead, raise everyone’s tax (or use some casino or lottery money) and build modern, large prisons that have plenty of beds and room for growth. I’m willing to pay more to lock up more criminals if that’s what it takes.

Feed these scum three good meals a day, lock them up and forget about them.

Macy Hanson said...

@5:09

...But we throw the book at, at increase enforcement, of property crimes. That is the point. Address real crime with our limited resources.

Anonymous said...

^^^5:16

Anonymous said...

If we are going to put prisoners in these conditions, go ahead and make all sentences life sentences, because there is no way a person is going to come out of that place and be a contributing member of society. Its like when you take a feral cat to the shelter. Its no use.

This has to be fixed.

Cynical Sam said...

Kick the can....down the road...just like the national debt.

Anonymous said...

Prayer will fix it. Seems to be the answer to everything else!

Anonymous said...

Let's contract all the death row, lifers, and violent criminals to jails in some other state (like somewhere in the middle of nowhere) and contract out to private firms the less dangerous minimum security types. The rest can sit at their home on their own dime with an ankle bracelet.

Anonymous said...

Everyone seems concerned about the conditions at Parchman and pointing fingers at the state government. If these same people would be as concerned about the crime conditions on the streets of our communities and were as eager to point fingers at the culprits, we would not be having this discussion.

Anonymous said...

Why so much concern for the same folks who think nothing at all about stealing your car, sticking a gun in your daughter's / wife's face and rape her, break into your home / business and steal your hard earned belongings?

Personally, I have been able to avoid the prison life by basically behaving and fitting into society....they had the same choice.

Anonymous said...

All that money not spent on the MDOC has been spent on economic development and draining the swamps in Mississippi. Frontage roads in Tater's neck of the woods, fancy uniforms for the MBN, the money has been used to grease the wheels of politics and commerce.

So it's not like the money has been left sitting in a vault. After the wheels have been greased then the lucky ones get to collect
the gravy.

So in some ways it's already MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! If the voters vote for more of the same then they can continue to have more of the same!


Ooops! Almost forgot to mention Kemper Clean Coal and those Mississippi coal mines.

Anonymous said...

More money is not the answer, just like it is not the answer for DHS, DPS or Education. We need leaders in these agencies to revamp the agencies and reallocate where the money needs to be utilized wisely. It's ridiculous to allow these agencies to continue to increase the pay of the top leaders while the ones who do the actual work continue to have to be on Food Stamps to survive! A complete overhaul is needed!

Anonymous said...

4:55 p.m. Have you actually been to Parchman and been in the Units? I have, and I hate to disappoint you, but the conditions are as bad or worse than Jerry Mitchell makes them out to be. As far as money goes, the State will either have to pay now or later. It can pay now to either update Parchman or build another facility,or it can pay later when a federal court makes it, along with a bunch of taxpayer money in attorney's fees because the Legislature was to pig-headed to try to remedy the conditions at Parchman.

Anonymous said...

7:49 am I don't have more sympathy for the criminal than the victim.
I am, however, someone who has toured prisons elsewhere and studied criminals and incarceration.
My self interest is that I do not want prisoners to gain expertise in criminal behavior while in prison. I do not want the mentally deranged to become more dangerously deranged and more violent.
I do want prisoners to be in a well controlled and contained environment where their daily activities are well-regulated and where those who are into an early career due to peer group influences or addiction have some chance of rehabilitation and learning some useful skill. I want the mentally ill treated with medication and the psychopath controlled and well identified.
We will never eliminate crime. Even the most punitive societies still have criminals and crime.
Money won't reduce the number of criminals in any given generation. What it will do is pay for the officers, structures, and equipment that can contain them without making them more effective and more violent criminals and educate the sociopaths to see that crime doesn't actually pay mathematically and that few sociopaths are smart enough to succeed in a life of crime for very long.

Anonymous said...

There are many prisoners in Parchman convicted of burglary or possession of ... drug. The root of this problem is DRUGS. Until there are options for drug addiction and rehab that are affordable and available, crime escalation will continue for these type prisoners. Those arrested for drugs should be put in mandatory rehab and follow up programs, and assistance in getting some type of employment. Once convicted, it is very difficult to obtain employment, therefore the cycle repeats itself.

Affordable Rehab/Drug Rehabilitation would help so many of these prisoners, especially those in their 20's.

Anonymous said...

5:20 a.m., I believe that prayer will solve any problem, according to God's will and on his time frame, IF we we are willing to do the work and follow it up with positive action.

Anonymous said...

@ January 20, 2020 at 4:05 PM

It’s not about pay. You can raise the starting salary to $50,000 and get the same results. Until we build facilities that can operate efficiently we will just be throwing money in the wind.

That's the only reason why turnover is high at MDOC correctional officers are leaving Mississippi to go work in other states, because they want to work in better facilities AND make $50,000 a year. LOL!!!!

In all seriousness, you made some good points. But the salary is a major issue for a dangerous job.

Tate Reeves gutted corrections with budget cuts will presiding over the Senate. He birthed this baby and should have been held accountable at the ballot and not given a promotion. Mississippi is always going to Mississippi! SMH

Anonymous said...

@12:55- I don't like Tate, but please advise of ANY OTHER CANDIDATE that would TRULY fix (or attempt to fix) the prison issue(s). And, attempting to fix does NOT include throwing more money at it.

A large part of the problem IS THE GUARDS. Raising salaries with no other corrections to system just means more money in the gangs' pockets.

Anonymous said...

Nobody with even Goat-Sense is going to move his/her family to Drew, Ruleville, Tutwiler, Merigold in order to work at Parchman for fifteen cents an hour above minimum wage.

And no, none of these so called Correctional Officers is going to quit and move to another state with that skill set. Hell, a month before they got hired they were fry cooks, working a counter at Double Quick or driving a tractor.

Perhaps the legislature thinks these minimum wage guys can work long enough to earn a PERS retirement of $458 a month.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS
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