MDOC commissioner tightens security at Parchman prison

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Video Courtesy: MDOC

CLEVELAND, Miss. (WJTV) – In an effort to tighten security at Mississippi’s State Penitentiary in Parchman, MDOC Commissioner Burl Cain announced Wednesday that the back gate will be reopened and guarded for the first time since 2017.

“The Back Gate was unmanned years ago mainly because of budget and staffing cuts. Then it became a hole in the perimeter through which contraband flowed into the prison, allowing in drugs, alcohol, tobacco, cellphones, you name it. Contraband makes all prisons unsafe and puts inmates and guards at risk by giving gang leaders power to control cellblocks and commit violence.  Governor Reeves told MDOC in January to ‘restore order and safety’ and bring justice to those who commit violence, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” the commissioner stated.

Commissioner Cain traveled to Cleveland, Mississippi, at the request of Corrections Committee member and State Sen. Sarita Simmons of Cleveland and Rep. Abe Hudson of Shelby. In addition to security, Simmons and Hudson want Parchman’s back gate reopened as a recruiting incentive to hire more correctional officers from west of the prison. 

“Some individuals have to drive an additional 30 miles around to the Front Gate to go to work. There is a limited workforce in the area and issues such as this should not make the job more complicated. For security purposes, the Back Gate guard house should have never been closed. Commissioner Cain and I agreed that these issues must be addressed. In addition, we hope to see an increase in personnel as a result of correcting this issue,” said Simmons.

Hudson added, “I have been vocal about my displeasure for the back gate being closed that would allow my constituents in House District 29 who work there to have a higher quality of life. Opening the back gate will facilitate much shorter commutes for my constituents who are employees of MDOC plus it will allow them quicker access to respond to any emergencies. We need to do whatever we can to make Parchman a model prison and a good employer in our community. This does not fix everything, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

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