JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – While governor Tate Reeves and Vicksburg mayor George Flaggs toured the Parchamn prison to assess what needs to be done a “prayer for prison” rally was held at the State Capitol building.
Of all the demonstrations for prison reformed held thus far this one put on by the organization Angels By Your Side brought pastors in to speak along side parents of inmates and former inmates accusing the corrections system of being inhumane.
“What would Jesus do if he was governor?” Bishop Kenneth Thrasher preached. “What would Jesus do if he was Mississippi state’s Lt. Governor?”
One of dozens of passionate speeches echoing throughout the State Capitol as demonstrators made their voices heard responding to 10 inmates dying in MDOC custody.
“The word of God says in Hebrews 13, remember those in prison as if you yourself were in chains,” CJ Rhodes of Clergy Prison Reform stated. “We need every legislature in Mississippi to ask themselves how would they want to be treated? How would they want to have a second or third chance in life?”
Former inmates who served at the Parchman facility took the podium after to describe the harsh punishments they claim certain guards would put them through on top of living in rundown cells.
“You have a man who gets a tray and when his tray comes to him there’s an insect in it,” former Parchman inmate Keewin Grayer told us. “There’s rat and roach feces in it, there’s hair in it. This man fuses to eat this tray, they tell him you cannot get another tray.”
One mother who has a son inside Parchman expressed to us the frustration of worrying if the next fatality behind bars will be her own child.
“With all this going on it’s certainly scary,” Nancy Foster said. “But everyday you get a text or something on your phone about what’s going on in Parchman and I’m trying to find out make sure it’s not my child. I worry about his food, is he hungry?”
Legal experts with the ACLU and the state public defender also spoke about reforming laws like all inmates having to serve at least 85% of their sentence no matter their behavior, and life for minors without parole.
“I am for one sick and tired of our state always being a part of the negative,” Rep. Abe Hudson said. “Where were perceived not only across the state, across the country as being an inhumane and uncivil place.”
The newly appointed chairman of the senate corrections committee Sen. Juan Barnett also spoke saying legislators are racing to make fast reform solutions to work for decades to come.