- Three Mississippi Department of Corrections employees have tested positive for COVID-19
- A prisoner with preexisting conditions, who tested positive for COVID-19 has died
- At least 30 inmates have died in the Mississippi Department of Corrections custody since Dec. 29
The Mississippi Department of Corrections has confirmed a death at Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman tied to COVID-19. For MDOC, 2020 has been plagued with claims of human rights violations from prisoners.
The majority of these claims have been confirmed by officials over the past four months. However, MDOC statements related to their handling of COVID-19 show conflicting information with prisoner claims, another ongoing trend within Mississippi’s extremely troubled prison system.
Prisoners reached out to their family, in fear of their own health, begging for help. Family members quickly took to Facebook to express their concerns on April 11.
One Facebook user, who told Discuss they wished to remain anonymous, claims that her husband called her to tell her that there was an 18-year-old man that was diagnosed with COVID-19.
The woman claimed that he was just a few cells away from her husband in 29 L and was left there to die. The woman went into more detail about the call she received in a Facebook post made on Saturday.
According to Clarion Ledger:
INTERIM MDOC COMMISSIONER TOMMY TAYLOR TOLD THE CLARION LEDGER ON MONDAY NIGHT THAT HE WAS INFORMED SUNDAY OF THE INMATE’S DEATH. HE SAID THE INMATE DIED AT DELTA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER IN GREENVILLE. HE SAID THE INMATE HAD BEEN SICK FOR WEEKS. THE MDOC STATEMENT SAID THE INMATE, WHO HAD UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITIONS, WAS TESTED WHEN HE BEGAN EXHIBITING SYMPTOMS AND WAS IMMEDIATELY MEDICALLY ISOLATED PENDING RESULTS. THE RESULTS DID NOT COME IN UNTIL AFTER THE INMATE HAD DIED. WHETHER THE INMATE DIED BECAUSE OF THE CORONAVIRUS HAS NOT BEEN DETERMINED, ACCORDING TO TAYLOR.Clarion Ledger
The family member also claimed that the guards did not clean the prisoner’s cell after their body was removed nor did they check the health of other prisoners.
This is not the first time family members have claimed that MDOC officials are mishandling the COVID-19 pandemic. An admin of a Facebook group calling for Parchman to be closed took to Facebook expressing their worries. They claim East Mississippi Correctional Facility is not allowing the use of bleach to be used for cleaning.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, our facilities have been under quarantine with restricted transfers, no visitations other than attorneys, and daily screening of facility staff,” Taylor said, according to Clarion Ledger.
Discuss spoke to a family member of a prisoner that is involved with a class-action lawsuit against Parchman, under the guise of anonymity, who disputes Taylors claim.
The source told discuss that numerous transfers from other facilities into Parchman continue to happen. Prisoners that were exposed to the prisoner who died were given masks and that a routine sanitation process has been created, Taylor said.
According to the source, numerous transfers from other facilities into Parchman continue to happen. Taylor claims prisoners who have been exposed to those who have died have been given masks. He also stated that a routine sanitation routine process has been put in place.
Parchman prison received international attention in January after videos of the horrible and dangerous conditions within the prison system were leaked. The videos showed contaminated food and water, black mold, violence, and corruption.
In February, Governor Tate Reeves claimed that Unit 29 will be closed within a few weeks. As of now, there are at least three buildings within Unit 29 still being occupied. According to two sources, infected prisoners from Unit 26 are being moved to Unit 29 C causing more fear and aggression within the prison walls.
Discuss also received a tip that a prisoner by the name of Earl Dycus died while being transferred to a hospital, but as of the time of writing this, we could not confirm that.
If Parchman continues its history of mismanagement, it will not only risk the lives of prisoners, but the lives of the guards, employees and lawyers as well.