A former deputy warden at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman has been sentenced to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release for violating an inmate’s civil rights.
In early August of 2016, Melvin Hilson approached an inmate who was being held in a caged area inside the medical unit and struck him several times. According to court documents, there was no reason to use force as the inmate did not pose a threat to himself or others.
Hilson was reported to have knocked the inmate to the ground, picked him up, and struck him to the ground again. The inmate did not fight back or defend himself during the incident and received injuries of a ruptured eardrum, abrasions to his ear and neck, and prolonged headaches.
Following the event, Hilson falsified a report to conceal his actions and lied to investigators with the Mississippi Department of Corrections regarding his conduct. At the time of the assault, Hilson was a working member of Parchman’s K-9 Unit.
Hilson pleaded guilty on May 26 to willfully depriving an inmate of his constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by repeatedly striking the inmate.
“This defendant abused his position as a corrections officer by unlawfully assaulting an inmate in his custody,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said. “This defendant violently assaulted the victim, and violated the trust that we place in corrections officials to lawfully carry out their duties. The Civil Rights Division will continue to vigorously enforce our civil rights laws and hold jail and prison officials who break the law accountable.”