A major storm caused a power outage at Parchman Prison in Mississippi last week, disrupting cell phone jammers which allowed prisoners to continue exposing the abuse, violence and conditions inside one of the country’s most notorious prison with smuggled phones.
Parchman is one of several prisons in the state where prisoners have been engaging in a “blood bath” between rival prison gangs that has left at least five inmates dead but possibly more. Inmates, however, have accused the violence on corrections officers whom they say have been unlocking cell doors to allow rival gang members inside cells.
Aside from the violence, the inmates have been leaking videos showing the horrid conditions inside the rat-infested prisons, including no running water to shower or flush toilets and no mattresses to sleep on.
One video surfaced on social media on January 11 that a prisoner recorded showing a fire lit within prison walls. The prisoner says other prisoners created multiple fires to get the wardens attention, as one of the prisoners was in desperate need of insulin and in the middle of having a diabetic attack.
“We in this mother fucker, man we got a brother down in this. You know what I’m saying? He ain’t have his insulin. He sick bro. We been in this building with no power. The warden just came and put the first fire out. Guy making fires and shit, you know I’m saying, trying to get some help for the guy that’s down and shit. But, they don’t give a fuck.”
Prisoners also released two pictures and a video of a prisoner covered in blood. The prisoners claim that three prisoners got shot for setting up the fires.
“Laying on the floor, man, on the lower part of my back so you know I couldn’t be doing nothing man. I was shot in the lower part of my back. I was laying down when they shot me man.”
Another video surfaced on the same day that was pitch black but contained audio of numerous prisoners screaming and banging to get the attention of the warden to inform them that a fellow prisoner was having a diabetic attack.
“No power. No water. We aint eat all day. Mother fucker needs medical attention.”
On January 12, a semi-lit video surfaced on Facebook showing a prisoner pleading for assistance as another prisoner was having a diabetic attack needing insulin.
Lea Campbell of Mississippi Rising Coalition posted the two following screenshots to her personal Facebook Saturday sent from a prisoner. The prisoner told her that a prisoner in Building L hung himself.
“Im fine, the power has been off all day so we haven’t had a way to charge our phones. They had somebody hang theirself (sic) in L building which is right next door.”
The prisoner also says that it is pitch black “like a scary movie.”
Campbell and many others were protesting outside, unaware of what was happening inside as the inmate was dying.
On January 8, Parchman prisoner A.D. Mills, 42, was pronounced dead Wednesday at 12:41 a.m., the day after the Southern Poverty Law Center called for the Department of Justice to step in and investigate the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Coahoma County Coroner Scotty Meredith said the cause of death was a blood clot in the lungs and unrelated to the stabbings and deaths that took place in early January and it will likely never be known if his health conditions worsened due to the mistreatment and horrible living conditions inside the prison.
Another video surfaced online recorded before the power outage showing the prisoners still have no running water. The prisoner also confirms they cannot post the video as the signal is being blocked.
A video surfaced on January 12 of a prisoner claiming a guard shot him with a 12 gauge while he was laying on the ground with his hands on his head.
“Laying on the floor, being compliant, defenseless, hands behind my head. All that, behind my door. He ripped through here and shot.”
He also said that he had to take care of his wounds and self-medicated.
Photography is Not a Crime spoke to a family member of a prisoner in Unit 32 under anonymity for the protection of her family member.
Her family member told her that inmates have been using the tops of styrofoam trays to lay on because they do not have mattresses to protect them from the ice-cold concrete floor. He also told her that he has never seen grown men cry and pray as much as they have in there and that they have mentally destroyed the prisoners. He also said multiple prisoners have been shot by guards.
She provided PINAC News a copy of the call for verification purposes. We have altered their voices for his protection.
She also provided PINAC News a video of a second prisoner walking with a female guard during lockdown that was taken before the power outage. In the video, the prisoner claims the guard was in the cell for eight minutes.
A video of a phone call from a Parchman prisoner in 29b surfaced on social media on January 8 in which a prisoner says that inmates in buildings 29C through 29F were transported to Unit 32. In 2010, Unit 32 was condemned after a lawsuit revealed that it was unsafe due to contamination, mold, and the amount of deaths that occurred.
Halfway through the video, the prisoner says:
“They still aint come and give anybody medical. They still aint come and give anybody medical. There’s guys that still got injury wounds, head bleeding, lip bleeding, face bleeding, all of that that are still over here in the zone. The nurse still aint brought them no medicine. They still have wounds. They trying to hide the fact that these state troopers beat us all up.”
He continues to say that the state troopers are refusing medical attention, so their wounds do not become part of the public record.
“They trying to hide the fact that they beat us all up. They don’t want us to go to medical. We can’t get no medical record that they beat us up for no reason.”
Another video was also uploaded of a prisoner begging for someone to help them saying that it has been three weeks with no running water.
Prisoners are also asking for an investigation into Lieutenant Meeks, Officer Wells and Officer Powells. They claim that if they are not removed from Unit 32, the prisoners believe their safety will be at risk, according to a Facebook post by AAIATG.
A video from Unit 29 at Parchman surfaced that was recorded during the storm, before they lost power showing the water flowing inside from the ceiling.
On January 10, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson took to Facebook releasing a letter he sent to the Department of Justice asking for their assistance in investigating the conditions that the prisoners are forced to suffer under.
If the United States Department of Justice agrees to look into the Mississippi Department of Corrections, it would not be the first time.
In 2019, Mississippi Department of Corrections officer Reginald Laterry Brown was found guilty of violating the civil rights of a prisoner housed at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility after a Department of Justice investigation. Brown was sentenced to five years.
An investigation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation also took place in 2018 after 15 prisoners died in one month. Commissioner Pelicia E. Hall believed that most of the deaths were due to either cancer or pre-existing health conditions. One of the prisoners died in prison and nine died at a hospital. It is unknown where the other five prisoners died, according to Fox6Now.
“As of September 11, 2018, 59 deaths had been reported of inmates incarcerated by MDOC this year. In August alone 16 deaths were reported. In 2017 there were 78 deaths, 2016 – 74, 2015- 47, 2014 – 71 and 2013 – 53,” according to an interview Commissioner Hall had with YallPolitics.
Ann Johnson came forward saying Mississippi Department of Corrections knew well in advance that tensions were rising. She went to their headquarters three times and after no luck, she decided to create a paper trail sending emails since December 20, according to WLBT.
“Mississippi has the third largest incarceration rate in the world yet cannot afford to sustain its current regime of over-criminalization and longer sentences.”
The letter references the June 2019 failed health inspection, the request for funding of $22.3 million to fix the facility and ignoring pressure from constituents.
Instead, Governor Phil Bryant released a statement on Twitter that they will be spending $2.1 million on transferring prisoners to an out of state private prison, since they are to incompetent to take care of the prisoners themselves. The amount being spent is over the tax funded budget limit, according to WJTV.
Even though there have been yearly protests, numerous petitions, and hundreds of calls over the years, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann calls this an unanticipated expense.
“Every time we have to spend more money on something like this and an unanticipated expense than that takes away something else. The pie is only so large. You’ll see us scrutinizing all the state agencies.”
Mississippi Department of Corrections attempted to put out pictures to get some of the heat off of them on January 10. They claimed the pictures were taken during a cleanup from Unit 29 at Parchman. Dozens of former prisoners called them out saying that the pictures they uploaded were from the condemned Unit 32, not Unit 29.
A ruling from the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a 12-year sentence of a man who was convicted of having a cellphone in prison in 2018.
Willie Nash was taken into custody and booked into the Newton County Jail on a misdemeanor charge. The cell phone was confiscated after Nash asked a jailer to charge his cell phone. The jailer took the phone to the sheriff deputy in charge. Nash originally denied it was his phone but later gave the deputy the pin to unlock it. There were recent pictures and text messages showing that he was in jail.
Nash filed a motion for a retrial on the bases that he believed his Eight Amendment was violated, but it was rejected.
According to WDAM:
“Nash argued that the statute created three tiers of offenses, with possession of a weapon being the most serious offense and possession of a cellphone being the least serious, if it was not used in criminal activity”
Mississippi’s Poor People’s Campaign attempted to speak to Mississippi public officials on January 10 about the mistreatment the prisoners are being forced to go through. They were denied access, according to their Facebook Live video.
Jay-Z, Yo Gotti, and Roc Nation sent letters on January 9 to Governor Phil Bryant and Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall threatening to sue the state if prison conditions don’t improve.
“To see this happen so close to my hometown of Memphis is truly devastating. That’s why we’re calling on Mississippi state leaders to take immediate action and rectify this issue. If they don’t right this wrong, we’re prepared to take legal action to provide relief for those that are incarcerated and their families,” Yo Gotti said in a statement according to BET.
The letter was signed by their lawyer Alex Apiro.
After many prisoners were forced to relocate to Unit 30, they took to social media to show their new living conditions.
On January 13, family members of prisoners within Unit 6 at East Mississippi Correctional Institute took to social media saying that their loved ones stopped receiving access to hot water since shortly after Christmas. Since then, the prisoners have only been able to take two showers. They also had a sewage backup on the lower level that ruined the majority of the prisoner’s possessions.
It appears that the prisoners in Parchman care more for each other than the guards care about the prisoners.