JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A top official in the Mississippi prison system says an attorney’s account that an inmate recently attempted suicide by hanging is “completely untrue.”
Jeworski Mallett said in court papers filed Sunday that an inmate in the Mississippi State Penitentiary on Friday made “a makeshift pull-up exercise device out of what appeared to be shredded bed linens.”
Mallett is acting deputy commissioner of institutions for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. He wrote that he was at Parchman on Friday and he and other employees took down the exercise device.
“This incident was not an attempted suicide,” Mallett wrote. “To my knowledge, there were no attempted suicides that occurred on January 31, 2020, as alleged by plaintiffs.”
Casey L. Austin is one of the attorneys representing inmates in a federal lawsuit against Mississippi over conditions in the state’s prisons, which have been shaken by violence in recent weeks. The lawsuit is funded by Team Roc, a philanthropic group connected to entertainment mogul Jay-Z’s company, Roc Nation.
In court papers Saturday, Austin wrote that he was inside Parchman to interview inmates Friday.
“At approximately 2:00 p.m., I heard a Mississippi State Trooper tell the Unit 29 lobby Correctional Officer that he had just ‘cut one down,’” Austin wrote. “He then explained to Correctional Officer that he had cut down an inmate who had tried to hang himself in his cell.”