JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Scott Roberts, Senior Director of Criminal Justice Campaigns for Color of Change, issued the following statement in response to Governor Tate Reeves’ decision to close Unit 29 at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.
Governor Reeves’ announcement that he plans to close the notoriously inhumane Parchman Unit 29 is an important victory for our movement, but it does not let the governor off the hook for the ongoing crisis, nor is it a sufficient response. Gov. Reeves must shut down the entire Parchman Prison. We joined hundreds of activists at the State Capitol on Friday to demand an immediate closure to the entire prison, a thorough investigation, and a serious start to real reforms of the inhumane state prison system. Gov. Reeves’ announcement to close Unit 29, where multiple deaths have occurred in the last month alone, falls short at the same time that it acknowledges both the power of our movement and the seriousness of the problems at Parchman. We appreciate the promise that Gov. Reeves has made and look forward to seeing him follow through. But if he is hoping that this announcement is enough to make us go away, he is sorely mistaken. We will not rest until Governor Reeves answers the demands of our petition to:
· Move all of the incarcerated men to a humane facility;
· Ensure that all men have access to food, clean water, suitable sleeping conditions, and adequate health care;
· Conduct a full and independent investigation into the murders of five incarcerated men, including any officers or prison personnel who may have been involved; and
· Begin a formal process to reduce incarceration in Mississippi and shut down Parchman Prison for good.
This crisis continues and the people of Mississippi are watching.”=Scott Roberts, Senior Director of Criminal Justice Campaigns for Color of Change