- On Sunday evening, Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton released a statement regarding an inmate death at Parchman on Saturday
- Gabriel Carmen was found hanging in his cell just twenty minutes after correctional officers witnessed him throwing feces and acting irate
- It took correctional officers forty minutes to get to Carmen after he allegedly jammed the door shut from the inside with a pipe from the toilet
- Parchman recently was named in its third serious lawsuit for violating the Constitutional rights of inmates
On Saturday evening another inmate at Parchman Prison in Mississippi died. On Sunday evening Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton confirmed the death of Gabriel Carmen.
Gabriel Carmen Found Hanging In His Cell
Burton received the call at 7:23 p.m. on Saturday, January 18, 2020, from Mississippi Department of Corrections Security at Parchman stating an inmate had died in Unit 29 Holding. Unit 29 has drawn national scrutiny on not just the prison but MDOC as a whole as inmates continue to expose the deteriorating prison and serious human rights violations they have been forced to endure.
According to Burton, Carmen was found hanging in his cell by two MDOC correctional officers. Carmen was allegedly last seen during a security check at 6:20 p.m. by officers. Officers claimed Carmen was irate and throwing feces on the wall in the hall. Just twenty minutes later, at 6:41 p.m., officers claim the person responsible for cleaning the hall alerted the two officers Carmen was hanging.
Officers attempted to get inside the cell but Carmen reportedly jammed the door from the inside with a pipe he removed from the toilet. The two officers requested maintenance to assist in opening the door. At 7:21 p.m. Carmen was pronounced dead. MDOC staff transported the body to the State Medical Examiner for autopsy. Carmen was serving time for grand larceny and unlawful touching of a child. Burton released the following statement.
I recently saw a protest rally where victim’s families stated they were not advised by MDOC of the details surrounding the death of their loved ones. I was unaware that they were not given details, so I have personally spoken to Mr. Carmen’s parents to express my condolences and offer answers to their questions. Please keep the Carmen family in your prayers, as well as MDOC Staff, inmates, and their families.Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton Via WJTV
Suicides are nothing new for Parchman inmates. Over the last few weeks, videos from inmates in Parchman and other MDOC facilities have been shared on social media. In one video inmates claim an inmate was left hanging in his cell for at least twelve hours.
Videos And MDOC Officials Conflict With Each Other
Since news broke of the problems inside Parchman and MDOC as a whole, the response from Mississippi officials has been to push the blame. Just before conditions of MDOC prisons came to light, MDOC Commissioner Pelicia Hall resigned from her position. Governor Phil Bryant has publicly blamed the inmates. Nobody can seem to explain how exactly Mississippi officials allowed their prison system operate how it has been.
According to a tweet from MDOC on January 5, conditions at the prison were “stable.” However, videos released since that tweet show the prison to be anything but stable.
Conditions are currently stable in MDOC’s prisons. The MS Dept. of Public Safety & others are assisting the agency. Troopers are providing support at Parchman. Commissioner Pelicia Hall: “We are continuing to assess the population. We are still being very mindful and watchful.” pic.twitter.com/Q6JdWs9Wu1— MDOC (@MS_MDOC) January 5, 2020
One video taken by a Parchman inmate shows rats and huge piles of trash on January 12. The prison is said to be infested with both roaches and rats and inmates have been able to provide evidence of both claims.
Another video uploaded around the same time shows a unit with barely any light and a toilet on the verge of flooding. Flooding toilets have become common at Parchman. While the video was uploaded last week, it is not clear when it was filmed. A tweet from MDOC on January 12 said inmates had been given “bottled water & food.” In the video, the inmates say they were given bottled water after showing they do not have running water.
Last week news broke that artists Jay-Z and Yo Gotti had helped a lawsuit get filed on behalf of prisoners in Unit 29. Just days before, MDOC announced they are contracting with the questionable private prison company CoreCivic Inc to immediately house 375 maximum-security inmates initially for up to 90 days.