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Update: MDOC investigating 16 inmate deaths in August

Sixteen inmates died during the month of August in custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

55 year-old Richard Beasley was serving 28 years for burglary-larceny and was sentenced on November 20th, 2012.  He was housed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman and died at Allegiance
Specialty Hospital in Greenville.

The manner and the cause of death for all inmates are pending autopsies.

Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall made a statement that reads:

“The Mississippi Department of Corrections takes seriously its constitutional mandate to provide health care to all individuals in its custody. All deaths are investigated to determine whether foul play is involved. If foul play is determined, the cases are referred to the appropriate authorities. The number of deaths the department is reporting is not out of line with the number of deaths in previous months. However, the department appreciates the concern from the public and remains committed to transparency. As such, the department has been the first source to make certain information about deaths available to the general public. Based on current information available, the department believes that a majority of the deaths are from natural causes in that they include cancer, coronary, and other medical conditions. The incarcerated 19,000-plus individuals tend to mirror the free world in that people from all walks of life and with all types of pre-existing conditions enter the prison system daily. Recognizing that, the MDOC is committed to ensuring that all individuals entrusted to its care receive appropriate medical care.”

She is also requesting the assistance of two outside agencies in investigating the inmate deaths.

“I have been communicating with the FBI and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety regarding our deaths,” said Commissioner Hall. “Based on available information, we are seeking assistance from others outside the department in the interest of transparency. My administration is committed to ensuring that all individuals in the department’s care receive appropriate medical care.”​

Governor Phil Bryant said Commissioner Hall is working hard with these agencies to determine what is going on.

“Each one of these deaths are just like any other death,” said Governor Bryant. “They stand on their own merit.”

He said he doesn’t think there’s any conspiracy or any common thread.

“It’s  just a fact of life that people are going to pass away and sometimes within a correctional facility it can be difficult to identify that until it’s a little later,” said Governor Bryant. “We’re going to do everything we can to find out what’s going on with each and every one of them.”

He said they’re just as important as anyone else in the state of Mississippi whose life has been lost.

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