WARNING: The following article contains content that some audiences may find disturbing.
Editor’s Note: The location where Terrandance ‘Kaboom’ Dobbins was murdered has been corrected to South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville.
- Multipel deaths, guards working with gangs, alleged riots and viral videos give a glimpse inside the reality of the Mississippi State Penitentiary, better known as Parchman Farm
- Parchman has had serious issues regarding violating inmate rights since its conception in 1903 when it was created for “convict leasing”
- Social media videos from inmates show the prison is consumed by violence, unsanitary conditions and correctional officers allowing imates to run amuck
- Parchman has been through two lawsuits in 1971 and 2005 and found to be violating the same Amendment rights inmates claim they are currently violating
- Inmates are now being placed in Unit 32, which was shut down in 2010 following the 2005 ACLU lawsuit
- Earlier in the week, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant blamed the inmates for the issues in Parchman and said it was under control, a claim disputed by inmates
Following the leak of dozens of videos from inside Mississippi State Penitentiary—more commonly known as Parchman Farm—the Mississippi Department of Corrections is facing national scrutiny due to horrendous living conditions, extreme violence, and accusations of guards aiding inmates conduct violent crimes. Inmates also claim they are now being placed in Unit 32, an area of the prison that was shut down a decade ago following a class-action lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the inmates.
The History Of Parchman Farm
Parchman was established in 1903 and consisted of three separate farms on 16,000 acres. It was intended to be a self-sustaining and profitable prison, which by 1918 it held a net revenue of $825,000. To keep it self-sustaining convicts were responsible for the majority of operations at Parchman, including acting as armed prison guards. Prisoners that were given guns to watch over other inmates working in the fields were known as “trusty shooters.”
The origin of Parchman is deeply engrained with slavery, with one of the prison’s main priorities being the “convict leasing” program just decades after slavery was abolished. A headline in the Clarion Ledger on December 17, 1900, read “NEW CONVICT FARM” after the Mississippi Board of Control purchased the land for Parchman in Sunflower County. The convict leasing program focused on arresting African-American males for both legitimate and false crimes so the state could lease them out as prisoners to wealthy contractors. These contractors would then sublease the prisoners to other companies.
Prisoners in the convict leasing program were forced to live in horrible conditions. They worked long hours without receiving pay, were barely fed and often forced to sleep in tents near job sites. The prisoners were used for dangerous tasks, such as dynamiting tunnels for railroad companies and cleaning malaria filled swamps for construction companies.
In 1917 Parchman began to accept white and female prisoners. To keep with the original intent of profiting off the work of prisoners, the grounds became home to a series of small units referred to as “prison camps.” From farming to sewing, each prison camp was capable to generate a profit from the inmates’ work in some shape or fashion. Parchman would operate under these conditions for 60 years before finally seeing some reform.
Freedom Riders Bring Awareness To Parchman
In 1961, once jails overflowed in Jackson, Mississippi during a summer of civil rights protests, more than 100 Freedom Riders were sent to Parchman, allegedly for their own safety. The decision to place Freedom Riders in Parchman brought national media attention to the inhumane conditions inside the maximum-security prison. Former Minnesota Governor Elmer L. Andersen sent a delegation to check on the well-being of several Freedom Riders from his state. Despite the criticism, Former Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett defended the inhumane conditions, telling Minnesota delegates, “When people come here to willfully violate the laws, you can’t expect them to be treated like they were at a tea party.”
One of the most well-known symbols of discipline at Parchman at the time was a three-foot-long and six-inch-wide leather strap known as “Black Annie.” The act of whipping was popular in the South outside of slave plantations, especially after surviving the abolishment of corporal punishment techniques, such as branding and ear cropping. It was a legal form of abuse that was even implied against white criminals for minor crimes.
In 1964 Parchman saw small changes following a state prison reform bill that banned the use of Black Annie. It also brought in mechanical equipment to increase agricultural yields while easing the workload and physical toll on inmates. Parchman Superintendent C.E. Breazeale told The New York Times in 1968, “We’re trying to get away from the idea that while a man’s here we’ve got to get out of him every pound of cotton there is in him.” Vocational training and job counseling became available to inmates for the first time. “We’re trying to think of the man when he’s getting out,” Breazeale said.
1971 Class Action Lawsuit Against Parchman
On February 8, 1971, inmates brought a lawsuit against Parchman for violations of their First, Eighth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The suit claimed African-American inmates had been segregated and discriminated against due to their race, a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Along with segregation issues, the lawsuit said Parchman had failed to provide inmates with “adequate housing, medical care and protection from assault from other prisoners; that the conditions of the sewerage disposal and water systems create an immediate health hazard, and that prison officials have permitted the custodial staff, including inadequately trained armed trusties, to inflict cruel and unusual punishment upon inmates in violation of the Eighth Amendment.”
At the time of the lawsuit, there were 1,900 inmates in Parchman, two-thirds of which were black. The prison had only 21 units, 12 of which acted as residential camps. The prison continued the practice of allowing inmates to police themselves, which kept power in the hands of prison gangs. Parchman Superintendent Thomas D. Cook said, “The inmates do the guarding of the inmates.” Inmates had different roles, such as “trusties,” “hallboys,” “floorwalkers” and “cage bosses.”
The housing units at Parchman were said to be “unfit for human habitation under any modern concept of decency.” The bathrooms at all the camps were “shockingly inadequate” and presented an “immediate health hazard.” A State Board of Health report read, “A new sewage system is the most pressing environmental need now existing at the Penitentiary.” The waste disposal systems being used at Parchman had been condemned by both state health and pollution agencies.
All 14 water systems had one or more deficiencies needing attention or improvement. Eight of the systems had major defects that presented the potential for “dangerous contamination.” Parchman water was contaminated due to the inadequate sewage system which spread infectious diseases through the prison. On February 10, 1972, the State Board of Health reported “The water supply facilities at Mississippi State Penitentiary were found to be inadequate and obsolete … to protect the health of the inmates and employees at Mississippi State Penitentiary. The need for a new water system is almost as great as the need for a sewer system.”
Inadequate water and sewage at Parchman is an issue inmates are currently exposing in videos and pictures on social media. Videos show feces and urine on the floor and toilets backing up with sewage from toilets flushing in other cells. Multiple videos show the poor quality of water inmates are forced to drink. Inmates currently placed in the condemned Unit 32 say there is no running water.
Lawsuit Claimed Inmates Were Not Safe In 1971
The medical facilities at Parchman failed to provide adequate medical care for inmates. The majority of inmates were not receiving “prompt or efficient” medical examinations, treatments, or medications. Up until just before the lawsuit, Parchman only had one physician, leaving inmates to perform medical functions they were not qualified to do. The hospital was said to house unsanitary conditions and inmates with “serious contagious diseases” were “allowed to mingle with the general prison population.” Inmates also developed complications from the lack of medical treatment.
Another concern was the safety of inmates. The barracks were not classified and inmates were not assigned to specific areas of the prison, which resulted in aggravated violent criminals mixing with first offenders or non-violent offenders. Inmates were tasked with duties they were not trained for. Those with the title of Hallboys performed administrative duties like distributing medication, delivering mail and maintaining skeleton files. Even though knives were rampant in the prison, there was no procedure for conducting shakedowns to discover weapons. If an inmate was found in possession of a weapon it was not reported and there was no punishment. The lawsuit cited 85 assaults of inmates at the hands of other inmates with 27 of those instances being an armed attack resulting in an inmate being stabbed, cut or shot.
Almost fifty years later and it appears the inmates remain in control of Parchman. Videos being shared online show two inmates fighting with other inmates watching and regulating the fight with no correctional officers in sight. Inmates claim the correctional officers are of little help even if they are around. In one video an inmate claims “Captain King” watched as an inmate was killed. Another video shows inmates boxing with what appears to be t-shirts wrapped around their hands. From just these three videos the prisoner appears to be extremely chaotic at best.
Parchman Maximum Security Unit
In 1971, the Maximum Security Unit was a separate building with four wings. One portion was known as the “permanent side” for those deemed dangerous to others or with a record of escaping. The other portion was known as the “punishment side.” This is where prisoners were taken after violating prison rules. Each wing of MSU had 13 8′ x 10′ cells. The individual cells were equipped for use for two men with double metal bunks, lavatory, and commode. Each wing had one 6′ x 6′ cell known as the “dark hole.”
Cook would defend the dark hole as a “necessary type of psychological punishment for inmates who are obstreperous, obstinate violators of penitentiary discipline.” It was said Cook favored using the dark hole over giving lashes. At this time the prison was able to deliver seven lashes to an inmate as punishment. Inmates were placed in the dark hole naked, without any hygienic materials and typically without adequate food. It was customary to cut the hair of an inmate in the dark hole with a pair of sheep shears, which would often caused injury. Inmates were left in the dark hole for 48 to 72 hours, even though 24 hours was supposed to be the maximum allowed time.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi would end up siding with the inmates. Parchman was ordered to fix the conditions, practices, and procedures that inmates were enduring. While some hoped that would be the end of the inhumane treatment of inmates at Parchman, 40 years later the prison would once again face a lawsuit on behalf of the inmates for continuing the horrendous practices that appear engrained in the prison’s practices since its conception.
The Birth Of Unit 32
In 1982 Christopher Epps received a call asking if he wanted to work at a new medium-security facility at Parchman known as Unit 29, the same Unit videos are currently being leaked from. Epps had filled out an application at a career day at Mississippi Valley State University years prior but never thought he would get a response. By the time he was contacted by MDOC, Epps had already taken a job as a teacher. MDOC said they could work around his teaching job and Epps agreed to work as a part-time correctional officer in Unit 29. In 1985, Epps decided to leave his teaching job and become a full-time correctional officer. By 1988 Governor Ray Mabus appointed him deputy superintendant of Parchman. Epps was responsible for security and running day-to-day prison operations. In September 1990, Epps opened a new facility at Parchman. That facility being Unit 32.
In August 2002, Governor Ronnie Musgrove promoted Epps to commissioner of corrections. In the same month a team of ACLU attornies got their first look inside Unit 32. Just a month prior the ACLU had filed a lawsuit on behalf of prisoners on death row at Parchman. Margaret Winter, an attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project, said the first time seeing Unit 32 was “a soul-searing experience.” Psychiatrist Terry Kupers said the conditions inside one of the cells were enough to “cause intense anxiety and rage, psychiatric breakdown and in a large proportion of the cases, suicide.” In 2003, Judge Jerry Davis handed down an injunction for Parchman to improve conditions inside Building B.
ACLU Lawsuit On Behalf Of Unit 32 Inmates
On July 22, 2005, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the extremely inhumane treatment of inmates in Parchman’s Unit 32. If there was an area that could be compared to hell on Earth within the American prison system it would have been Unit 32. Unit 32 was a massive complex of five buildings that housed around 1,000 men, almost all of which were in segregation cells where they remained on lockdown for 23 to 24 hours a day. The inmates—many of whom suffered from untreated mental health issues—lived in total isolation. According to the lawsuit, “The conditions of confinement in Unit 32 are so barbaric, the deprivation of medical and mental health care are so extreme, and the defects in security so severe, the lives and health of the men confined there – and the correctional staff that work there – are at great and imminent threat.”
The defendants listed in the 2005 lawsuit included:
- Commissioner of MDOC Christopher Epps was responsible for the daily functioning and administration at MDOC.
- Deputy Commissioner of Institutions of MDOC Emmitt Sparkman was responsible for the daily functioning and administration of MDOC Institutions, which included MSP.
- Superintendent of Mississippi State Penitentiary Lawerence Kelly was responsible for the daily functioning and administration of MSP.
- MDOC Medical Director Kentrell Liddell, M.D. was responsible for the administration and provision of medical, dental and mental health care services to inmates in MDOC’s custody. Liddell was also responsible for monitoring and overseeing the quality of services provided by Correctional Medical Services, Inc., a health care provider contracted through MDOC. CMS was also named as a defendant.
- Regional Vice President for CMS Larry Linton was responsible for the overall administration of medical services to inmates at MSP.
- Regional Medical Director for CMS Keith Ivens was responsible for the quality and adequacy of medical services to inmates at MSP.
- Regional Mental Health Director for CMS Fred Klopfer, M.D. was responsible for the quality and adequacy of medical services to inmates at MSP.
- Health Services Administrator for CMS-Parchman John Bearry, M.D. was responsible for the quality and adequacy of medical services to inmates at MSP.
- Chief Psychiatrist at CMS-Parchman Gail Williams, M.D. was responsible for the quality and adequacy of medical services to inmates at Parchman.
Unit 32 was intended to be a “supermax” area of the prison used to incarcerate the most “dangerous and incorrigible offenders in the State.” The intentions of Unit 32 was far from the reality. Many of the inmates that were held in Unit 32 for months, years and even decades did “not have the kind of criminal history or institutional conduct that justifies incarceration under ‘supermax’ conditions.” An alarming number of inmates were in Unit 32 for “purely arbitrary reasons” and for “no discernible meaning at all.” Inmates placed in Unit 32 lacked any opportunity to argue their placement in supermax. The Unit was also used for confining inmates who were HIV-positive, had special medical needs, suffered from severe mental illness amd even inmates placed in protective custody.
Inmates were allowed to leave their cells three times a week for a five-minute shower. They were given sporadic access to an outdoor exercise cell that was barely any bigger than their normal confinement. If they made it to the outside cell they remained fully shackled in handcuffs, leg-irons, and waist chains. Guards routinely canceled the extremely limited opportunity to go outside. Arbitrary strip searches and cell shakedowns were common before yard-call to discourage inmates from going outside.
Even the inmates who met the requirements for supermax confinement did not warrant the countless human rights violations they were forced to endure. “These conditions include profound isolation and unrelieved idleness; pervasive filth and stench; malfunctioning plumbing and constant exposure to human excrement; lethal extremes of heat and humidity; uncontrolled infestations of mosquitoes, spiders, horseflies and other insects; grossly inadequate medical, mental health and dental care; the routine use by security staff of excessive force; and the constant pandemonium, night and day, of severely mentally ill prisoners screaming, raving and hallucinating in nearby cells,” the lawsuit read.
Extreme Violence Never Stopped At Parchman
The current claims that Parchman guards are aiding prison gangs with gang-related business and violence is nothing new. Security in Unit 32 was said to be so “inadequate and incompetent” that prison gang leaders assigned to work in the supermax unit were able to freely conduct gang activities. Gang leaders often recruited corrupt corrections officers to facilitate drug transactions, prostitution rings and extortion schemes against other inmates. Inmates and social media users claim there is currently a violent ongoing feud between the Gangster Disciples and the Vice Lords inside Parchman. Videos from inmates claim prison guards are “popping locks” for Vice Lords and allowing them to violently attack members of the Gangster Disciples. Pictures taken from inmates show some of the violent acts that appear to be a regular part of every day life at Parchman.
Rest In Piss Kaboom
A video that embodies both the violence and chaos inside MDOC in general shows an inmate throwing flaming toilet paper on something already burning while yelling, “Rest in piss Kaboom! Burn in Hell Kaboom! Rest in Piss Kaboom! Burn in Hell bitch! GDK!” The inmate is referring to Terrandance Dobbins, an inmate and member of the Gangster Disciples that went by the nickname “Kaboom,” which is why the inmate said “GDK” at the end of video. The abbreviation is short for Gangster Disciples Killer. Dobbins was killed in South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville last week. Social media users claim his body is being burned in the video, but that has not been confirmed. A fellow inmate and Gangster Disciples member was one of many to make a status on Facebook following Dobbins’ murder.
Lighting Fires To Get A Guards Attention Is Nothing New
The 2005 lawsuit claimed it was nearly impossible to accomplish any reading, writing, or even sustain a focused thought in Unit 32 “due to the constant screams, moans, curses, animal noises, maniacal laughter and hallucinatory ravings of severely mentally ill prisoners in adjacent cells, and because of the collective din of prisoners pounding on cell bars and door frames – their only means to attract the attention of corrections officers. In current videos, inmates still claim they must bang on their door frames and even light fires to attract the attention of the correction officers.” In one video an inmate claims they are having to light fires just to get attention to request food. In another video, a thick cloud of smoke can be seen throughout the prison hallways.
A History Of Guards Abusing Prisoners And Suicide
The 2005 lawsuit claimed some corrections officers would “sadistically bait and threaten prisoners, or gratuitously beat prisoners already in full restraint gear.” For example, if a prisoner had to be removed from Unit 32 for having suicidal thoughts or be moved for any reason, “takedown teams” of four or five officers forcibly removed the shackled inmate from his cell then sprayed him down with a chemical agent known to cause vomiting and shortness of breath. Once shackled and nauseous from the chemical agent, correctional officers would assault the inmate. Fifteen years later, a video recently leaked by inmates claims to show officers beating inmates outside while forcing other inmates to watch.
The lawsuit notes the abuse of an inmate by the name of Christopher Smiley, described as a “youthful prisoner on psychiatric medications.” On November 24, 2003, Smiley threw a glass of water at a corrections officer. The officer responded by screaming she was going to kill him then summoned a team of take-down officers. After being placed in full restraints Smiley was gassed, pushed, punched and dragged into the hallway where he was severely beaten. Smiley was then taken to a holding tank before being taken to a punishment cell where he spent the following night naked as it dropped below freezing temperatures. Officers refused to give Smiley his medications and denied him meals.
Smiley told ranking officers about the threats and beatings then begged to be moved. Officers responded by telling Smiley to set a fire if he wanted to be moved. On November 26, an officer told Smiley “you’d better be gone when I come to work tonight.” That same night Smiley was found dead in his cell, hanging in the corner near the sink. Weeks later on December 16, 2003, Patrick Presley—who was in Unit 32 because he needed protective custody—was found hanging in his cell. Prisoners hanging themselves in their cells appears to still be semi-common practice in Parchman. One of the recent videos released by inmates claims an inmate hung himself in his cell and guards left him hanging for at least twelve hours.
Unsanitory Living Conditions
Despite the sanitation issues addressed in the 1971 lawsuit, the 2005 lawsuit found the same problems continuing in Unit 32. Prisoners in Unit 32 were said to be “exposed to grossly unsanitary living conditions and deprive them of the means to maintain basic personal hygiene.” The unsanitary conditions made inmates extremely susceptible to drug-resistant staph infections (MRSA). MRSA causes skin infections and boils that lead to deep abscesses, pneumonia, endocarditis, meningitis, bone infection and blood infection. MRSA was said to be rampant in Unit 32 and other units at Parchman.
The plumbing was said to be dysfunctional in Unit 32, with almost every cell having a “ping-pong” toilet, just like in the 1971 lawsuit. The ping-pong toilet is a reference to toilets that push excrement and waste into the adjoining cell’s toilet when it is flushed, as seen in one of the videos previously in this article. Cells, hallways, and showers in Unit 32 were also deemed “chronically filthy.” The lawsuit described a “cesspool” adjacent to the buildings created from defective plumbing and regular flooding. The flooding in Unit 32 was said to soak prisoners’ cells and their mattresses with dirty water that was allowed to sit for days at a time.
Videos from inmates show that these issues are still actively occurring at Parchman. Inmates often find themselves walking through flooded hallways and cells. In some videos, water can be seen dumping through the ceiling of the prison. Inmates are forced to try to catch as much water as possible in buckets to avoid further flooding. One inmate showed where his mattress was growing mold, likely from being saturated. Other pictures taken by inmates show the general condition of the prison.
Along with the inadequate plumbing throughout Unit 32, the lawsuit states the majority of the cells lacked electricity, once again, another issue is still occurring today. A health inspection from June of 2019 confirms the current living conditions of Parchman. The health inspection showed many of Parchman’s cells lacking lights and power. Cells were also found to have water leaks, holes in walls, no mattresses and inadequate or inoperable lavatories. In the kitchen, the garbage disposal was stopped up and water was leaking from the ceiling above the dishwasher. It was recommended to remove the food from cooler 4 as the food temperature was 75 degrees. Flies were found around the kitchen and a flytrap on serving line 4 was said to be covered in dead flies. Prep room 1, 2, and 3 were reportedly inoperable but still being used to store food, bags of ice and milk. The food was not labeled with dates to keep track of what had expired.
Unsanitary Food Served To Prisoners
In the 2005 lawsuit, it reads, “prisoners are routinely served dangerously unsanitary food.” This is a claim that dates back to the conception of Parchman and was previously addressed in the 1971 lawsuit. Food carts holding trays for Unit 32 were said to be filthy. The trays themselves were cracked, encrusted with residue from other prisoners’ meals, littered with insects, and soiled with bird droppings. The food trays were often left in the hot sun for hours before being served, causing the food to spoil. Prisoners in Unit 32 were said to regularly battle with sudden bouts of diarrhea and vomiting. Pictures from inmates in Parchman show the prison still serves inmates unsanitary and inadequate meals regularly. One video from an inmate shows inmates incapacitated on the floor. Inmates claim they are incapacitated due to a lack of food and nourishment. Another video shows a bug in an inmate’s greens on his food tray.
A Lack Of Dental, Medical And Mental Health Care
Another ongoing issue named in both the 1971 and 2005 lawsuit is a lack of proper dental, medical and mental health care. In April 2003, the State of Mississippi entered a contract with CMS to provide dental, medical and mental health care to prisoners incarcerated in Parchman and other MDOC facilities. Under the terms of the contract, MDOC remained responsible for the care and security of the prisoners in their care. MDOC could review and approve CMS procedures and policies, monitor CMS and approve key personnel. Inmates in Unit 32 had seriously inadequate access to health care and were often forced to submit multiple sick call requests for weeks before they were able to see a doctor or nurse. Many patients were inevitably removed from Unit 32 by ambulance after having their request for medical assistance ignored. Pictures and videos recently released by inmates show this is another persistent issue as inmates are often left to tend to their own wounds. If the prison is neglecting to treat prisoners with fresh injuries, one can only assume the same treatment is received with chronic illnesses.
In Unit 32, even prisoners with well-documented chronic illnesses were often denied proper medical care. Prisoners were charged a $6.00 co-pay, which is an extremely high charge by prison standards. It was believed the intention was to discourage inmates from seeking medical attention. Medical records were said to be “so disorganized and so poorly maintained” that medical staff couldn’t make appropriate and timely decisions for patients. Refilling prescriptions in Unit 32 was so defective that “significant and unnecessary disruptions in medication” became part of the normal routine. Even HIV-positive inmates were denied their HIV medication despite the serious consequences for lapsing medication even just for a few days. Inmates were often given a day to two days notice when their prescription was almost out. The inmate would then be responsible for setting up a doctor visit to receive a refill, which typically caused a two to three week gap in the inmate receiving medication.
Parchman was also using two physicians that were not approved to practice medicine anywhere in Mississippi or the country except Parchman. The two doctors never passed their medical boards but were given a special license that allowed them to work at MSP under the “favorable recommendation” of the medical doctor. That limited institutional licensure appeared to have been created at the “behest of MDOC” to allow the two doctors to work. MDOC knew at least one of the doctors was “dangerously incompetent.” The Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure had disciplined and restricted the medical licenses of three other physicians at Parchman, including the CMS-Parchman Medical Director due to habitual drug use, the Chief Psychiatrist due to a history of sexually exploiting and harassing patients and a contract physician due to medicare fraud involving the unnecessary performance of cardiac stent procedures and drug use issues.
Unit 32 Shut Down
In an unexpected decision, Epps agreed to enter a consent decree in 2006. By December 2006 Epps directed Deputy Commissioner of Institutions of MDOC Emmitt Sparkman to develop a task force to work with an expert witness from the ACLU to develop an entirely new classification system for the state correctional system. By summer 2007, Unit 32 had exploded into a violent war zone for rival gang members. In June 2010, the ACLU and MDOC reached an agreement to close Unit 32 and transfer the entire population to other facilities over a period of several months. All seriously mentally ill prisoners were moved to MDOC’s mental health facility in Meridian. As part of the agreement, the ACLU was allowed to monitor medical and mental health care provided at all of the facilities in the state.
We applaud MDOC Commissioner Christopher Epps’ decision to take this important step, and the work that he and his staff have undertaken during the course of the Unit 32 litigation to reform one of the worst prisons in the nation. These reforms have resulted in considerable savings to the taxpayers of the state of Mississippi, and more importantly the community is far safer as a result of these reforms because prisoners are not doing their time in an incubator for violence and mental illness.Margaret Winter Associate Director of the ACLU National Prison Project
Epps was later charged for accepting at least $1.4 million in bribes and kickbacks to steer more than $800 million in prison contracts. Epps’ attorney, John Colette, claimed his client began working with the FBI about five months before receiving the initial 49-count indictment against him and Rankin County businessman Cecil McCrory. In February 2015, Epps pleaded guilty to bribary and filing a false income tax return. In 2017 he was sentenced to almost 20 years in prison.
Inmates Are Being Placed In Unit 32 Ten Years After It Was Abandoned
A decade after closing the doors at Unit 32, inmates in Parchman claim they are being forced into the abandoned Unit despite no running water, black mold, and other health hazards. In one video, inmates say they were taken out of Unit 29 and placed in Unit 32 without warning. The floors are covered with water and mildew and black mold is visible. Inmates say they haven’t been fed in over ten hours and no medications are being delivered. They were given no hygienic products before being placed in Unit 32. In another video, inmates claim to be in Unit 32 before opening a door to the outside. Inmates currently in Unit 32 appear to have no supervision what-so-ever.
In a phone call recorded and posted to social media, a person claiming to be an inmate in Parchman says inmates are being moved to Unit 32 without warning. The inmate claims he is still in Unit 29 but multiple sections of the Unit have already been moved to Unit 32. He was not sure where he was being moved but did believe he was going to be moved. The inmate claims other inmates with open bleeding wounds are currently receiving no medical attention. He goes on to say the inmates have not been out of their cells or taken a shower in nine days.
Discuss spoke to a spouse of an inmate that was moved to Unit 32 under the condition of anonymity. According to her husband, 500 inmates were moved to Unit 32 on January 3 because there was a “riot”. Another inmate’s mother told a similar story she heard from her son. A second spouse confirmed through the MDOC website that her husband is currently lbeing held in Unit 32. Any identifying details have been redacted to protect the inmate’s identity given the high probability of some form of retaliation.
Governor Phil Bryant Blames The Inmates
Surprisingly, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has claimed things at Parchman are now under control earlier this week following the deaths of five inmates. “Somebody asked earlier who is responsible for what’s happening at Parchman,” Bryant said. “The inmates. The inmates are the ones that take each other lives. The inmates are the ones that fashion weapons out of metal. The inmates are the ones that trash the very rooms they live in. The inmates are who you turn to.” Family members of inmates are accusing Bryant of lying. They claim that not only is the situation at Parchman not under control but the inmates say their rights are continuing to be violated. Interestingly enough, Bryant accused the inmates of being responsible for the same conditions and practices at Parchman that have already been condemned in two separate lawsuits and highly scrutinized by families of inmates since the prison opened over a hundred years ago.
MDOC Commissioner Pelicia Hall Resigns
As news broke of a massive disturbance inside Parchman, MDOC Commissioner Pelicia Hall turned in her resignation. According to a press release, Hall will leave her current position in mid-January to take a position in the private sector. It is unclear what job that will be but according to Hall it will allow her to “advocate for criminal justice reform and to support better wages and working conditions for the Department of Corrections employees.” Hall worked as the chief of staff to the MDOC commissioner for two years before Bryant promoted her to replace former Commissioner Marshall Fisher. Fisher went on to become the commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. In 2019, Hall requested lawmakers to exempt MDOC from parts of public record laws just years after Epps was convicted. Inmates claim Hall has been accepting payments and having romantic affairs with members of the Vice Lords.