TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - One Tupelo church is demanding prison reform for the entire state of Mississippi.
Tupelo resident Alfanette Vaughn says she struggles with her son's safety every day.
“How’s he doing? What’s going on? So I’m just constantly in prayer,” Vaughn said.
Her son Marcus is currently serving a 12-year sentence in Parchman prison for attempted robbery and shoplifting.
In the last month, nine inmates have died in the facility. The Sunflower County coroner attributed three of those deaths to violence.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections put Parchman on lockdown on Dec. 29, 2019. MDOC lifted it on Jan. 10.
But Vaughn says she hasn’t spoken to her son since last year, and when she does call the prison, she’s often left with more questions than answers.
She says she leans on her faith and the members of Red Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church. They, alongside Rep. Rickey Thompson, held a press conference to announce their plan for prison reform.
"The entire Mississippi prison system, especially Parchman is a humanitarian crisis," Rev. Jeffery Gladney said. "No one deserves to live in squalor or in fear that their life will be taken in the middle of the night."
Part of the group’s plan includes amending House Bill 585. This is a bill that the state passed in 2014 which oversees the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
They hope the legislature would consider the following:
- Closing Parchman and moving inmates to a suitable facility, releasing juveniles who don’t have life without parole convictions and vulnerable adults who completed their sentences.
- They are also asking the Mississippi governor to launch an independent investigation into those who died while at Parchman.
- Thompson also says he hopes the money the state saves from these amendments will go toward programs to help keep inmates out of jail once they are released.