Mississippi Inmates Dispute Governor Claim Of Inmates Being Root Cause of Riots
Inmates have continued to use social media to show their friends and family what transpires behind the gated prison walls in Mississippi.
Through those videos, pictures, and posts, it is now known what the Mississippi Department of Corrections has been trying to keep out of the eyes of many.
For years, inmates and their loved ones have been begging for oversight into the corruption that they say starts from the top. There has been many rallies, petitions, and hundreds of unanswered calls.
Outgoing Governor Phil Bryant held a press conference on January 6, where he put the blame on inmates for the conditions they live in and the risk they take while being there.
Mississippi Prison Inmates Deny Governor Bryants Claim
Photography is Not a Crime spoke to Carol Leonard of Prison Reform Movement and she said the inmates are blaming the violence on their horrible living conditions and the corruption that runs heavily between the guards.
The inmates say that a lot of the female prison guards spend 16 to 17 hours a day with them and during that time, they communicate and develop feelings for each other, he told Leonard.
As the relationship grows, the inmates convince the guards to bring in contraband also known as packs. The inmate says that the guards make side money off of the packs. He gave an example of tobacco bags.
"You can spend $20 on the street, bring it to certain prisons and make money. For instance, a pound bag of tobacco goes for $22 maybe $25 dollars at a store in Wilkinson. County guys make close to $2500 off one bag of they wholesale it they make close to a thousand, in msp close to $1500 and in SMCI close to $2100."
The inmate also told Leonard the guards bring in 20 to 30 bags at a time, due to it being fast and easy money.
The inmate blames the guards greed saying that the women are dealing with numerous inmates within gangs and that is the reason behind the riots.
One of the guards that the inmates blame is Rashida Parker. Inmates have taken to Facebook to express their anger.
Inmates have also spoken out saying that some of the stabbings and deaths are unrelated to gangs and contraband. Some of the inmates blame built up frustration on the mistreatment and horrible living conditions that the guards allow.
The inmates claim their frustrations come from having to live with moldy walls, lack of water, flooded floors, lack of nutrition, food being late, and being forced to live in the same cell as people that are violent.
On January 5, Lea Campbell posted screenshots of an inmate claiming that they are withholding food.
A family member of one of the injured inmates took to social media and said his brother was stabbed 8 times. He goes on to say that the inmates have no running water or toiletries.
Inmates also took to social media to say that before the riot happened, gang members were collecting weapons and turning them into guards. They were able turn in dozens of knives.
Governor Bryant posted a picture on Facebook on January 6, claiming that he is working hard on fixing the issue. He gave zero details on how he is fixing it. Interestingly enough, Commissioner Pelicia Hall was wearing the same clothes she did yesterday or he waited till today to provide a meaningless update. Commissioner Hall has yet to take care of dozens upon dozen healthcode violations at Parchman last year
In April 2019, correctional officer Wendolyn Janielle took to Facebook and joined the Feeling Cute Challenge.
More Cell Phone Footage Released
Three more videos have surfaced on Facebook taken from inmates.
One of the videos shows an inmate stuck in a hole in the wall, but refusing to get out. Other inmates can be heard calling him Polo attempting to encourage him to get out of the hole.
A video also surfaced of two inmates fighting each other. The video starts out with them fighting outside the cells in the hallway with a crowd around them. The video cuts to the inmates continuing to fight but in a cell.
Another video surfaced of an inmate becoming a citizen journalist showing what the inmates have to deal with within the prison on days that it rains.
"They pay all their taxes and everything in the world, makes no sense why we cant keeping things in the greatest conditions."
The inmate goes over where the water is leaking, from the lights to the ceiling.
The leaking was so excessive that one of the TVs had to be removed, according to the inmate.
As he continues to record how the prison looks he says anything can happen there.
"I know officers don't have time, so anything can go on here. You know what i'm saying? Get killed, anything. Nobody will even know about you. Till they count and they hardly do that as well."
The video continues for another minute-and-half till he says he has to stop recording as the guards are about to count the inmates.
Even after forcing the inmates into Unit 32, the guards continue to sell the inmates contraband.
Mississippi Department of Corrections Refusing to Speak about Unit 32
With inmates taking video claiming they were forced to relocate to condemned Unit 32, family members of inmates have became quite worried.
Discuss Global journalist Meko Haze reached out to Mississippi Department of Corrections to validate the video along with questions regarding Unit 32. The department told him that they were to busy to answer his questions as they were only going to focus on questions in relations to a captured inmate.
With the response Haze received, Pinac News has filed a public records request for further information.
Celebrities and Activism
Rapper T.I. took to Instagram on January 5 posting two pictures and three videos regarding the mistreatment that inmates in Mississippi Department of Corrections have received.
Above the phone number was the caption:
"The death toll at Parchman continues to rise. How long must we wait for Mississippi lawmakers to address this crisis?"
The following three videos depicted the conditions that the inmates live in. It showed the dirty discolored water, trash all over the floor, inmates waiting 16 hours for food, and inmates being forced to relocate to condemned unit 32.
T.I. spoke to David Banner and was told that Banner was in communication with the Mayor of Jackson Mississippi, Chokwe Antar Lumumba. There is a follow up call set up for further information.
His post quickly grabbed the attention of many celebrities and musicians.
Bun B, Sy Ari, Columbus Short, Patrick Cloud, and Bria Myles also took notice through T.I. and TraeThaTruth posts.
Activists created a video that contains snippets of videos along with pictures of what has been released of the living situation of the inmates.
Activists with the Poor People's Campaign released a press release calling for a rally on January 7 at Mississippi State Capitol from 11AM to 1PM. According to the Facebook event, they will be joined by, MS Dreams Prisoner Family Support, Southern Poverty Law Center, IWOC- Mississippi, People's Advocacy Institute, One Voice, Mississippi Rising Coalition, National Action Network, Womanist Alliance, MS Reproductive Freedom Fund, Second Chance Initiative MS, Justice for Jaylen Campaign, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, MS NAACP and others.
If what the inmates claim is false, then Mississippi Department of Corrections should have no issue showing the concerned citizens across the nation, how the inside looks. If the inmates are correct, how long has this been going on and why was the department unprepared for such events? If what the inmates have leaked is true, would this fall under “cruel and unusual punishments?” These are questions many concerned ones have, which will likely fall on deaf ears.
If you would like to contact the Families Against Mandatory Minimums hotline you can do so by calling 888-887-9480.