Following the surfacing of grotesque video footage revealing living conditions of inmates in a Mississippi prison, a spotlight has seemingly been placed on the issue bringing attention to the Mississippi Department of Corrections and the mismanagement of their facilities. This negligence has resulted in an influx of violence in several prisons and families of the inmates are expressing deep concern for their loved ones as they are uncertain about their safety.
The video footage and photos of the unlivable conditions inside of the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman resulted in riots from inmates. Three inmates died following the riots and safety has become a primary issue for many of these inmates’ families.
The recently released footage shows men being stabbed, bodies inside of the prison cells, as well as another man that is hanged in his cell, according to Fox 13. However, the only solace some families have is that they have not received a call from the morgue.
Danielle Lamb, who has a family member currently incarcerated at Parchman said, “If you haven’t heard from the morgue, then your family member is okay.”
Other families members have no choice but to think the worse as their questions remain unanswered. “He only has months before he gets out and he’s scared for his life,” one family member said.
Fox 13 reports that family members said the riots initially transpired as a gang war between the Vice Lords and the Gangster Disciples.
The Marshall Project has attributed the recent eruption of violence to gangs running the prison as well. They also suggested that other factors include lack of staffing and conditions similar to solitary confinement – to name a few.
The Marshall Project has reported that according to auditors, prison officials have allowed gang leadership to “control their men.” If the gang leaders do not successfully obtain order among the prisoners, “lockdown” will go into effect. Lockdown is when prisoners are kept in their cells for nearly 24 hours a day.
“The atmosphere at the institution was angry,” according to the audit. “The inmates were upset that the only reason they were getting out of their pods to eat their meal was due to our presence in the institution.”
Southern Mississippi Correctional Institution, which is one of the prisons where five inmates were killed within the last week, consistently enforced lockdowns.
Prison staff are also said to have allegiances to the gangs as well. More than two dozen former and current correction officers within the Mississippi prison system have ties to or affiliation with one of the two aforementioned gangs, the Vice Lords and Gangster Disciples.