Photo courtesy of MDOC
During his ‘State of the State’ address, Governor Tate Reeves announced that he has ordered the Mississippi Department of Corrections to begin the process of closing Unit 29 at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.
Amid the ongoing unrest within the MDOC, Unit 29 has been a central location for violence and gang-activity as many have questioned the living conditions within the unit which houses some of the state’s most violent inmates.
Governor Reeves visited the facility last week and said that he had seen enough.
“There are many logistical questions that will need to be answered—we’re working through that right now. But I have seen enough. We have to turn the page. This is the first step, and I have asked the Department to begin the preparations to make it happen safely, justly, and quickly,” he said.
During his first address to the state, the Governor also discussed what needs to be done to improve Mississippi’s prison system in the long run.
“All Mississippians must be able to trust that the people in charge of this system are acting with competence to keep them safe. We must be able to trust that the corrections officers operating in these prisons have the tools that they need to do their jobs, and that they are compensated fairly. We must be able to trust that this system shows a baseline level of respect to those who find themselves within it. We must administer justice fairly, respecting the dignity of all within our prison walls. It was a great Christian martyr of the 16th century who saw a group of prisoners headed to the executioner and said, “there but for the grace of God, go I.” We must carry that same spirit of empathy as we embark on this mission,” Reeves said.
Tommy Taylor was recently named interim MDOC Commissioner while the search for a permanent replacement continues. Commissioner Pelicia Hall stepped down earlier this month.
Over the last month, 12 inmates – including 2 over this past weekend – have died in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.