TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - The death toll in Mississippi prisons is now 24.
Just one week ago, WTVA told you the death toll was 19.
That means in seven days, six more inmates have died in Mississippi prisons.
We may never know what life in lockup was like for those people, but we can get close.
WTVA anchor Emily Leonard sat down with a former Parchman inmate who considers himself lucky to have made it out alive.
"It made chill bumps go down my spine because I know what really was going on. In my head, I knew what was really going on," Steven Austin said.
A view from the inside.
"I was scared. I'm not gonna lie. I don't think anyone who goes down there ain't scared," Austin said.
For Austin, life looks a lot different now. He no longer takes for granted the simple pleasures in life, like riding his bike.
"Imagine trying to eat, and you find a snake or big frog or grasshopper in your food. That was everyday living right there," he said.
An addiction to alcohol landed him in the Mississippi prison system.
Locked up for three felony DUIs, he served his time in Unit 29 at Parchman and was released in 2016.
Using words like disgrace, sickening and infested, Austin holds nothing back when describing the conditions at the state's oldest prison. And neither does civil rights attorney Cliff Johnson.
"We had situations where water was turned off for 10 days and the inmates were made to defecate in bags and boxes and collect it in the same cells where they are served food, where there is no water to wash their hands, no access to showers," Johnson said.
"In 2020?" Leonard asked.
"In 2020. In the United States," Johnson replied.
Austin said field rats scurried through holes in the ceilings and walls.
"Them rats come through those vents and they will bite you," Austin said.
Mosquitoes swarmed in the summer.
"You have to have a fan and cover up with a sheet with the fan blowing under you to keep the mosquitoes from eating you up," Austin said. "And then in the morning from where the mosquitoes went through the fans, it looks like you've been slaughtered under there."
His description of the conditions backed up by in a June 2019 inspection by the Mississippi Department of Health.
The 154-page report cited flies, roaches, mold and plumbing issues, just to name a few.
"There is violence. There are conditions that would surprise people," Johnson said. "The cells are that small, the toilets are that foul. In many instances, it is as bad as anyone can imagine."
"It's bad living arrangements, and they don't do anything about it," Austin said.