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152 Parchman inmates sue over ‘medieval,’ ‘barbaric’ conditions at the prison

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Hip-hop artists Jay-Z and Yo Gotti are financing a lawsuit on behalf of 152 incarcerated men at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court, says the inmates live in “medieval” conditions, have been denied adequate medical and mental health care, that they have been fed contaminated food and that they have been retaliated against for speaking with their attorneys.

“The conditions of confinement at Parchman are so barbaric, the deprivation of health and mental health care so extreme, and the defects in security so severe, that the people confined at Parchman live a miserable and hopeless existence confronted daily by imminent risk of substantial harm in violation of their rights afforded by the U.S. Constitution,” the complaint said.

Among those being sued are Tommy Taylor, the interim director of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Gloria Perry, the top MDOC medical official, several prison officials and Centurion of Mississippi, the company holding the MDOC contract for medical, dental and mental health services. That contract is worth “tens of millions of dollars annually” according to the suit, but inmates are “routinely are denied adequate health care through a bureaucratic system fraught with corruption and incompetence.”

“Broken bones, abscesses, diabetes, and a host of other injuries and maladies routinely go without examination, much less medically effective treatment, at Parchman.” The suit states.

The lawsuit also claims that decades of underfunding have left Parchman understaffed to dangerous levels.

“Parchman suffers from chronic staff shortages, staff incompetency, and staff corruption that place Plaintiffs and other inmates in constant peril. Stated simply, there are not enough guards at Parchman, so the few guards available avoid interaction with the inmates at all costs,” the complaint says. “In many instances, there is one – often female – guard for every 160 inmates. As a result, prisoner-on-prisoner violence is rampant, and, at times, is facilitated by corrupt guards seeking to curry favor with inmates.”

The lawsuit outlines the nine prisoner deaths that have occurred at Parchman in 2020, many of them from stabbings and beatings, including some while guards looked on. In one case, two inmates were brutally beaten for three hours while the guard in charge did nothing to intervene.

Nineteen people have died in Mississippi prisons since Dec. 29, 2019, when the violence became so pronounced that MDOC ordered a system-wide lockdown to restrict prisoner movements. Regardless, the violence, much of it caused by gangs, continued.

Calling living conditions at Parchman “medieval,” the lawsuit says that the prison is “not suitable for animals.”

“Were these conditions in existence at an animal shelter, media would swarm, arrests would be made, and those in charge would be on their way to jail as a result of public outrage over this criminal conduct,” the suit claims.

Because of chronic, systemic plumbing problems, the plaintiffs “at times go for months without showers,” and toilets back up and flood cells. Rats are also a big problem.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice opened a civil-rights investigation into Mississippi prisons.

Gov. Tate Reeves, while consistently speaking out against increasing state funding to the prisons, has moved most of the inmates out of Parchman’s Unit 29, which houses some of the most violent prisoners, and into privately-run facilities until the state comes up with permanent housing for them. The unit also houses the state’s death row, which must remain at Parchman by state law.

Read the lawsuit here.

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Vicksburg Firefighters quickly extinguish apartment fire

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Firefighters at the Shadow Cliff Apartment fire. (Photo by Tommy Parker)

Vicksburg firefighters quickly extinguished a stove top fire at the Shadow Cliff Apartments on Alcorn Drive Monday Night.

 

At 10:08 p.m. a fire was reported at the apartments that sit between the New Main apartments and Greater Grove Missionary Church. Alcorn Drive was shut down as firefighters worked to supply water to the fire.

The resident, who is visually impaired, smelled smoke and did exactly what firefighters and Chief Danczyk recommend – if you smell smoke call 911.

The resident had left something on the stove and it burned, creating the smoke.

“I always take fire calls seriously. Several years ago I answered a call where there were children still in a house. I had to put them out of a window then follow them out. This one turned out well in that no one was injured. Don’t hesitate if you think you have a fire. Dial 911 and get out!” explained a passionate Eric Paymon, Adam 3 with the Vicksburg Police Department.

Battalion 1, Platform 1, Ladder 3, Rescue, Fire Medics and numerous Vicksburg police officers including Adam 3, responded to the fire.

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China Grove temporarily closed due to an accident

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The Kia Forte and utility pole. (photo by Tommy Parker)

At 9:06 p.m. Monday night, a call came into the 911 call center of a single vehicle accident at 2060 China Grove Road. The impact took out power to the area and created a hazardous situation with power lines on the ground.

 

The area between Gibson Road and Nine Mile Cutoff will be closed while the wreck is cleaned up.

A utility pole was knocked down by the impact of the vehicle that ended up on its roof. Power to the immediate area is out and there are power lines on the ground. About 10 homes are without power according to Entergy.

The Kia Forte with full air bag deployment with electric wires on it. (Photo by Tommy Parker)

The driver of the grey Kia Forte suffered only minor injuries. He was checked out by first responders and released at the scene.

Daniel Thomas is working the accident for the Warren County Sheriff’s Office being assisted by Deputies Cordell Watkins and Thomas McBride . Responding to the accident were Fire Boss Jerry Briggs, Fisher Ferry Chief Mitch Lange along with Tim Wood and Robin Knighton of the Fisher Ferry fire department who worked the accident scene from Engine 303.

First responders and Warren County Fire Boss Jerry Briggs are requesting you avoid the area until the accident scene is deemed safe.

 

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City says gas smell poses no danger

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(Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay)

Numerous Vicksburg residents have reported a strong odor similar to natural gas in the city.

City officials say the smell is apparently due to a release on the harbor, and that it poses no danger.

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Vicksburg
30°
Clear
6:47am4:58pm CST
Feels like: 30°F
Wind: 1mph E
Humidity: 100%
Pressure: 30.26"Hg
UV index: 0
TueWedThu
55/32°F
63/45°F
55/39°F

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