“I don’t want to die in the pen. Take me away from the state penitentiary & early release me back to my family. I’m in the belly of the beast. No sleep. Praying for peace. Listening to the News on Tv, All I hear is WAR. I just want a little taste of freedom- reunite with my mom & kids. Enjoy life.”via ExposeMDOC Jan. 3, 2020 3:10 AM
Stories of the growing unrest in MDOC prisons statewide have been circulating since the killings of four inmates at three separate facilities statewide in the last five days. While the killings have shed light on what is currently happening in MDOC, there have been many signs that unrest has been on the horizon as we reported as recently as September 2019 on the state of conditions in the MDOC facilities including at least two where inmates have been killed. From hunger strikes, to molded food, to raw sewage flooding the cells, to the bodies of inmates who have remained in cells for hours after dying as a result of a lack of healthcare at understaffed facilities – there is much more than what meets the eye as it relates to the circumstances that have culminated in the deaths of inmates- both at the hands of other inmates and potentially the hands of correctional officers and troopers. MDOC claims that the “inmates are under control”, but the issue with this statement is that unless the actual conditions of the inmates change at the facilities, the frustrations the inmates have expressed will still exist. In other words, this is far from under control. According to sources with knowledge of the internal ongoings of the current situation in Parchman, there are now at least fout more people dead, over 20 injured, and allegations that officers and troopers are shooting with impunity.
Below is a timeline of events which we have been made aware, including the deaths of the inmates at the four facilities and the aftermath of events that have occurred at each prison since being placed on lockdown:
Sunday, December 29, 2019
- Southern Mississippi Correctional Institute Inmate, Teranndance Dobbins (age 40) allegedly died due to injuries he received from a reported gang related hit on his life.
- MDOC Issues STATEWIDE LOCKDOWN
Tuesday, December 31, 2019
- Walter Gates (age 25) was killed at Mississippi State Prison (also known as Parchman Farms) when a reported prison fight broke out amongst inmates.
- MDOC Commissioner Pelicia Hall resigns.
Thursday, January 2, 2020
- In a reported coordinated attack, Gregory Emary (Age 26), an inmate at MDOC Regional Correctional Facility in Chickasaw County, was killed.
- An unnamed person is killed at Parchman.
- Armed state troopers occupy Parchman.
- MDOC issues a statement to media that everything is under control.
- Video surfaces appearing to show a man hanging in a Parchman prison cell. Note: Confirmation on when this incident actually occurred has not yet been secured. The video surfaced yesterday at approximately 7:00 pm last night. Warning Graphic:
- A message contradicting the MDOC statement is relayed to Black With No Chaser saying that multiple people have been shot since the state troopers arrived; that there are at least four dead and approximately 20 or more injured.
- Information surfaces that the inmates who were in Unit 29 (where Walter Gates and unnamed deceased were being housed) are now moved to Unit 32, which is widely referred to as a “Death Trap.” Unit 32 is a CLOSED UNIT that has not been utilized since 2010. It is the former death row facility and was closed due to poor conditions. The ACLU won a victory to have it shut down due to the deaths of multiple inmates in the facility.
- According to wikipedia: The $41 million unit opened in August 1990, increasing MSP’s maximum security bed space by over 15 percent. During that year, Mississippi officials said the prison needed more maximum security space after Unit 32’s opening. Prior to the opening of Unit 32, MSP had 56 “lockdown” cells for prisoners they designated as “difficult”. By 2003 the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of six inmates, alleging poor conditions in Unit 32’s death row. In 2007, three inmates in Unit 32 were murdered by other inmates in a several month span. During that year, a guard at Unit 32 said that under-staffing contributed to the security lapses. In 2010 MDOC and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reached an agreement to close Unit 32.
Inhumane Conditions Foster Inmates Frustrations
There have been other reported deaths throughout the prisons but are unconfirmed at this time. While many news outlets have been referring to the situation at Parchman as a Riot, Black With No Chaser sources indicate that there has not been a riot and that facts are being misrepresented to media outlets.
First-hand accounts from sources have indicated the reason behind the violence is due to understaffing, poor prison conditions including food quality, rodent infestations, and sewage back ups. According to the sources, these are issues that have gone unaddressed for an extended period of time and prison administrations have ignored the conditions. Additionally, there has been a spike of heroin use within the prison walls and a lack of treatment and mental health resources, according to those with knowledge of the facilities. Factors such as these have fostered justifiable frustrations with inmates in facilities throughout the state, and these derelict conditions, coupled with a lack of oversight, has lead to a precipitous rise in deaths due to neglect, lack of access to proper healthcare, poor diets, and violence and gang activity in Mississippi’s prison system.
Coincidentally, just two days prior on December 31st, 2019, MDOC Commissioner Pelicia Hall abruptly resigned amidst the backdrop of the prison system’s failures, as well as, the transitioning in of the Reeves administration.
According to a statement released by MDOC per their Facebook page, all prisons have been locked down statewide in an attempt to gain control of the situation. However, inmates say those efforts are futile until prison conditions are improved dramatically.
Currently, Mississippi prisons are severely understaffed. According to MDOC’s website, The starting salary for prison guards is right above $25,000 annually making it very hard to recruit and maintain personnel. In addition, standards are low to attain jobs within the state prison system in the first place, often times guards come from the same backgrounds as those who are incarcerated. Reporting on a basis of anonymity, inmates have said many of the guards are gang affiliated as well, and are complicit in the prison infighting. Because the prisons have been on lockdown statewide since Dobbins’ death, there are questions arising regarding how access to the other inmates that subsequently have died since Dobbins when the lockdown restricted movement within the prisons throughout the state. These circumstances have given rise to speculations amongst many regarding whether or not access to inmates that have been killed was allowed or simply by happenstance at all 3 facilities.
This is a developing story. Updates will come as we get more information.
Update: Footage of a fire at Parchman from a live stream inside the prison at 7 am today. In the approximately 1 hour long video the inmates are struggling simply to get assistance inside the facility. In the video the inmate corroborates our earlier story that at least 4 other inmates have died since yesterday.