- On Friday, Mississippi Department of Corrections announced Parchman is the only prison to remain on lockdown
- MDOC conducted a statewide lockdown of their prisons following a major disturbance that began on December 29 that spread across multiple prisons
- Parchman has become the center of controversy as inmates were moved to Unit 32 which has been closed down since 2010 and inmates leaked videos to social media showing their horrid living conditions
On Friday. the Mississippi Department of Corrections lifted the lockdown for all prisons in the state except for Mississippi State Prison, more commonly known as Parchman.
LOCKDOWN LIFTED FOR ALL PRISONS, EXCEPT MSP
“LOCKDOWN LIFTED FOR ALL PRISONS, EXCEPT MSP,” a statement read on the MDOC Facebook page. MDOC locked down prisons statewide on December 29 following a “major disturbance” at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution at Leakesville. One inmate was killed and two others sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
MDOC spokesperson Grace Fisher said 40-year-old Terrandance ‘Kaboom’ Dobbins was killed in that incident. Dobbins was serving a life sentence for a homicide in Adams County and eight years for aggravated assault in Sunflower County. Grace said Dobbins was not part of the disturbance but did not go into further details due to the pending investigation.
According to other inmates, Dobbins was a member of Gangster Disciples. He was allegedly stabbed to death by a member of a rival gang, the Vice Lords. Video released to social media by inmates claims to show Dobbins’ body being burned as a man throws fire and is heard yelling “Rest in piss Kaboom! Burn in Hell Kaboom. Rest in Piss Kaboom! Burn in Hell Bitch!”
Following the murder of Dobbins, four other inmates were murdered in prisons across the state in under two weeks. Walter Gates, 25, Roosevelt Holliman, 32, and Denorris Howell, 36, were all murdered in Parchman. Gregory Emary, 26, was murdered at Chickasaw County Regional.
Initially, SMCI, two other state prisons and three private prisons were placed on lockdown. On Tuesday, MDOC announced that lockdown had been lifted at 11 of their 15 regional facilities. All of MDOC’s state and private facilities remained on lockdown until Friday.
Concern Grows For Inmates At Parchman
Over the last two weeks, concerns have grown over the treatment of inmates at Parchman. Dozens of videos flooded social media showing the inmates living in horrid conditions at the state prison. Inmates also claim correctional officers were helping Vice Lords by “popping locks” so they could violently attack members of the Gangster Disciples in their cells. One video shows a stabbing during lockdown as inmates yell in the background. Another video claims guards left an inmate hanging in his cell for at least 12 hours.
One of the more alarming details to come from inmates is Parchman moving inmates from Unit 29 to Unit 32. Unit 32 was notorious for its wretched conditions before it was shut down in 2010 as a result of an agreeance between the ACLU and MDOC stemming from a 2005 class-action lawsuit on behalf of the inmates. Inmates released a video showing the condition of Unit 32, claiming they had no running water and black mold was visible. They also claimed they were not being fed and were not receiving medications.
MDOC confirmed they are placing inmates in Unit 32. In a press release on Thursday, MDOC announced they were contracting with the questionable private prison company CoreCivic Inc to immediately house up to 375 maximum-security inmates initially for up to 90 days. “Unit 29, where the inmates were initially being housed, has a failing infrastructure at Parchman, which has the capacity for 3,560 inmates,” the press release read.
MDOC also stated that Unit 32 is “structurally sound and not condemned” so it was being used as a “temporary housing location to separate rival security threat groups, or rival gang members, from further acts of violence.” The press release claims that during the process “the inmates’ needs have been met.” A claim highly disputed by inmates and their loved ones.
MDOC contracts with private prison company to house Parchman inmates
JACKSON, MISS. – Moving some inmates from the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman to nearby Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler is among the steps the Mississippi Department of Corrections is taking to maintain order in the wake of the recent unrest in the state prison system.
The department has contracted with CoreCivic Inc. to immediately house up to 375 maximum security inmates initially for 90 days.
“The Tutwiler facility was chosen because it is the only location that can immediately take on this population,” Commissioner Pelicia E. Hall said. “The facility is already operational and sufficiently staffed to manage close custody inmates. The department acted swiftly because of the violence at MSP and a lack of manpower to restore and maintain order. We also cannot staff any other facility.”
Unit 29, where the inmates were initially housed, has a failing infrastructure at Parchman, which has the capacity for 3,560 inmates. Cleaning continues there from the recent acts of vandalism. The unit has been plagued with vandalism over the years and needs major repair and renovation.
While Unit 32, a maximum security unit, is structurally sound and not condemned, it has been a temporary housing location to separate rival security threat groups, or rival gang members, from further acts of violence.
During the entire process, the inmates’ needs have been met. They have received food, bottled water, and necessary medical attention. Additionally, the Tutwiler facility was inspected Wednesday by the State Department of Health and approved.
“All of the cells passed a sanitation inspection which includes running water, hot and cold temperature availability, and proper lighting,” said Mississippi State Department of Health Environmentalist Rayford Horton. “We also inspected the water quality and kitchen facilities. I am pleased with what I found out there.”
Details of inmates’ movement are usually confidential for security reasons. Department plans call for notification of family members once movement is completed. Parchman has about 3,100 inmates today.
The initial plan is to house up to 375 inmates at Tutwiler, which is less than 10 minutes from Parchman, at a cost of more than $2 million. The contract with the Tennessee-based company may be extended for two more 90-day terms.
Walnut Grove Correctional Facility in Leake County, a vacant prison, can house the type of inmates in question, but the MDOC does not have the staff to operate it.
Mississippi Department of Corrections
“While the department has challenges, keeping staff and the inmates safe is always our priority,” Commissioner Hall said. “We do not want to see any more loss of life.”
Inmates Claim MDOC Leadership Is Lying
In a recorded phone call to a loved one, an inmate claimed state authorities came to Parchman and violently attacked inmates. The inmate also claimed there were inmates being denied medical treatment and that nobody had been out of their cells for nine days for even a shower.
Mississippi leadership has been anything but helpful during the prison crisis. Governor Phil Bryant went on camera to place blame on the inmates earlier in the week and dismissed the leaked videos circulating on social media. As news broke of a massive disturbance within the Mississippi prison system, MDOC Commissioner Pelicia Hall resigned from her position. Hall will be moved to a private sector in mid-January following her two years as commissioner.