Protesters rally for prison reform at Mississippi capitol after deadly riots at state prisons

MDOC lifts lockdown on all prisons statewide

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Mississippi Department of Corrections has lifted the lockdown for all but two prisons after more than a week. It comes after a deadly week inside Mississippi prisons and the capture of two escaped inmates.

Chickasaw County and Yazoo County Correctional Facilities remain on lockdown.

Prisoners' rights protest in Mississippi

Protesters are outside the Mississippi state capitol in Jackson right now discussing prisoners' rights after last week's violence in DOC facilities across the state.

Posted by WMC Action News 5 on Tuesday, January 7, 2020

On Monday, Gov. Phil Bryant tweeted he worked through the weekend with the MDOC Commissioner to “restore order and control at the prison at Parchman.” One day later protesters took their demands of prison reform to the state capitol.

“We stand here today to object to the lies they are telling,” said Paloma Wu with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Their demands are to end the alleged inhumane and unconstitutional treatment of Mississippi prisoners.

In total five inmates have died in the custody of Mississippi Department of Corrections in the last week, including three from the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

Mississippi lawmakers have requested for a federal investigation into MDOC.

Violence in Miss. prisons

On Tuesday, the Mississippi Poor People’s Campaign gathered outside the Mississippi state capitol calling for prison reform in the state.

“The state wants you to think that right now after the lockdown from last week that everything is under control,” said Lea Campbell with the Mississippi Poor People’s Campaign. "The truth is MDOC prisons have never been under any type of control.”

Mississippi’s prisons have the focus of Joe Neff who has worked with The Marshall Project for several months.

“The state exercises maximum control over an individual and yet there is the least transparency,” said Neff.

North Miss. man is third MDOC inmate to die in custody since Sunday

The Marshall Project obtained an internal audit created by Management & Training Corporation, the private company the state pays to manage operations at Wilkinson County Correctional Facility.

The audit, Neff says, revealed in MTC’s own words what’s going on in the prison, finding the warden allowed gangs to control the prison.

“We’ve been told by numerous people that the prisons are like pressure cookers,” said Neff.

Neff found high staff turnover at all prisons creates real issues for both the inmates and prison staff.

“The ball is in the court of the Mississippi governor who is over the Department of Corrections and the Mississippi legislature who decides how much to spend on prisons,” he said.

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