“Justice or else,” Protesters demand permanent solutions to state prison conditions

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – In the wake of 375 inmates being moved from Parchman to the Tallahatchie County private prison for 90 days to prevent future fights and deaths at the State Penitentiary prison reform activists are calling for permanent solutions.

Cries for better conditions and less crowding of facilities continued at the State Capitol Building.

Friday’s rally was put on by the Mississippi prison reform coalition and the peoples advocacy institution. Dozens of protesters turned out with a message for lawmakers.

Passionate chants echoed outside the State Capitol all afternoon. These Mississippians expressing their frustration with inmate deaths and conditions of state prisons.

“We will not allow another brother or sister to lose their lives at the hands of MDOC and the Legislators,” Sharon Brown stated.

“The food is horrible, the living conditions are horrible, no working water,” Former Parchman inmate Kevin Mallet claimed. “Guys are there losing their lives, at the hands of the government is putting down.”

To illustrate these claims many demonstrators held up signs showing familiar images that have surfaced like brown water coming from sinks in state prisons, black mold covering walls and faces of inmates who passed away behind bars.

“Why did they open up building number 32 knowing that there was no running water in there?” Former state inmate Karriem Muhammad asked. “Knowing that they had to put 6-7 people into one room? Knowing that they had individuals put in a room that was fighting against one another? Who created those situations?”

Looking to draw national attention actress and prison reform advocate Yandy-Smith Harris also joined in the rally.

“I’m holding one of the brothers that had been murdered,” Harris showed us. “Misun is holding the filth that is in the prison and Tameka is holding the water that is dripping from the sinks at Parchman. To let you know that Mississippi we got you.”

Documents obtained by Mississippi Today show MDOC and governor Phil Bryant have agreed to pay the Core Civic private prison a daily rate of $65 for each inmate over a 90 day period. This will cost state taxpayers an extra $2.1 Million dollars.

“It’s a profit, it has always been a profit,” Muhammad said. “When you go back to the convict leasing system it has not changed. When they transfer individuals from one prison to another they’re just getting money from them. We want to stop that.”

Following their rally organizers marched into the State Capitol building attempting to speak with Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann and governor elect Tate Reeves, but neither were available to meet.

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