Parchman, MS — Terrandance Dobbins, Walter Gates, Gregory Emary, Roosevelt Holliman, and Denorris Howell – who were all Black men – have been killed in prisons across the Mississippi state. Activists say the suspicious deaths are caused by negligence and malpractices in the state’s prison system.
In the past week, several videos and pictures of deplorable conditions and scenes including fires and violence inside the prisons allegedly recorded by different inmates have surfaced on the Internet.
Until Freedom, an organization that advocates for prison reform, and Yandy Smith, a businesswoman and reality TV star, shared the videos on their social media and have since garnered thousands of views and comments.
The Mississipi Department of Correction addressed the incidents in a statement last Friday.
“Four inmates have died and several have been injured at two state prisons and one regional during major disturbances since Sunday,” the statement read. “One death occurred at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution, (SMCI) in Leakesville, two at the Mississippi State Penitentiary (MSP) at Parchman, and one at the Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility (CCRF) in Houston, Miss. MDOC investigators have determined a fifth death and a minor fire, both at MSP, are unrelated to the major disturbances.”
State officials and authorities claim that an alleged drug war has caused the chaos and the death of some prisoners.
However, the prisoners and activists claim that the prison guards did not really protect them from the violence and that the conditions inside the prisons are unacceptable even before.
In fact, an inspection conducted by the Mississippi State Department of Health last year found that the MSP is still in a hazardous condition that repeatedly caused deaths to a number of inmates in the prison, despite numerous complaints and lawsuits over the years.
Moreover, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said that the inmates are the reason for the violence and the poor condition of the prison.
“The inmates are the ones that take each other’s lives, the inmates are the ones that fashion weapons out of metal. The inmates are the ones that do the damage to the very rooms they are living in,” Bryant told reporters in a video shared on Instagram by Until Freedom.