Mississippi prison on extended lockdown amid short staffing

A Mississippi prison has been on lockdown since January because of continued problems with short staffing.

Posted: Apr 29, 2019 5:08 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi prison has been on lockdown since January because of continued problems with short staffing.

About 1,800 of the 3,000 inmates at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution are locked in their cells 23 hours a day and have not been allowed visitors, the Clarion Ledger reported.

During a lockdown, inmates are not allowed outside their cells for work assignments, education classes or vocational-technical training, to go to church or the library inside the prison.

Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall told the newspaper that privileges suffer but restricting movement is necessary because the prison in Leakesville has a 48 percent vacancy rate for jobs.

"Under my administration, the Mississippi Department of Corrections does not condone or tolerate the mistreatment of staff or incarcerated persons," Hall said. "If information is brought to my administration's attention and an investigation finds there has been a violation of the department's policies and procedures or that a civil rights violation or crime has occurred, then the MDOC will act appropriately."

Hall asked legislative budget writers to set aside $7 million for pay raises for prison guards, called correctional officers. Lawmakers approved about $1.5 million to adjust some salaries.

The starting pay for a correctional officer without a degree or experience is $24,903 a year. Someone with a college degree or corrections experience starts at $26,148. Last month, the Department of Corrections began accepting applications to fill some of the vacant jobs.

South Mississippi Correctional Institution houses male offenders who are classified minimum, medium and close custody levels, as well as protective custody and long-term segregation. In 2017, some inmates at the prison staged a hunger strike, citing inhumane conditions. Last year, a convicted murderer escaped from the prison and an inmate's mother said her son was set on fire by a fellow inmate.

In 2018, a five-week trial took place in federal court in Jackson over conditions at the privately run East Mississippi Correctional Facility near Meridian, where many of the inmates have mental illness. Inmates complained about harsh, unconstitutional conditions at the prison.

More than 400 exhibits were introduced into evidence. Testimony was heard from 32 fact witnesses and nine expert witnesses. Senior U.S. District Judge William Barbour Jr. has yet to rule. He appointed experts to examine conditions at the prison and report to him.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 97049

Reported Deaths: 2919
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7148160
DeSoto562361
Harrison388374
Jackson352170
Madison331289
Rankin330879
Lee274870
Forrest250075
Jones249879
Washington225977
Lafayette219340
Lauderdale2064125
Bolivar184766
Oktibbeha180152
Lamar172435
Neshoba1580104
Lowndes157958
Panola150731
Sunflower147346
Leflore141381
Warren140950
Pontotoc127916
Pike124051
Monroe123669
Copiah119233
Scott117627
Coahoma116229
Marshall111117
Lincoln110453
Holmes109859
Grenada109536
Yazoo106230
Simpson104746
Tate100638
Union99824
Leake96138
Adams94237
Wayne90521
Pearl River89453
Marion86835
Prentiss86317
Itawamba83121
Covington82723
Alcorn82311
George78213
Tallahatchie77421
Newton77324
Winston74219
Tishomingo69138
Chickasaw68524
Tippah67217
Attala67025
Clarke60346
Walthall60226
Clay59618
Hancock58822
Jasper57715
Noxubee55116
Smith53615
Calhoun52212
Tunica49715
Claiborne46516
Montgomery46520
Yalobusha43614
Lawrence43313
Perry42419
Greene38717
Humphreys37815
Quitman3775
Stone37512
Jefferson Davis34211
Webster33813
Amite33210
Carroll32012
Wilkinson30518
Kemper29015
Sharkey26613
Jefferson2439
Benton2283
Franklin1933
Choctaw1866
Issaquena1053
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 136055

Reported Deaths: 2364
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19752350
Mobile13449292
Montgomery8852184
Tuscaloosa8654118
Madison792778
Shelby601349
Lee592760
Baldwin552650
Marshall396143
Calhoun353444
Etowah352145
Morgan331428
Houston292021
Elmore267348
DeKalb243221
St. Clair233036
Walker231984
Talladega217129
Limestone211920
Cullman190720
Dallas179126
Franklin178129
Autauga177325
Russell17633
Lauderdale172333
Colbert166626
Blount161715
Escambia161124
Chilton158830
Jackson158111
Covington140327
Dale139244
Coffee13596
Pike120510
Chambers116842
Tallapoosa116485
Clarke110016
Marion96829
Butler91339
Barbour8857
Winston74512
Marengo72420
Pickens66614
Bibb65610
Lowndes65427
Randolph65413
Hale64428
Geneva6344
Lawrence62123
Cherokee61213
Bullock60614
Monroe5908
Clay5878
Washington55913
Perry5416
Crenshaw54032
Conecuh53611
Wilcox53211
Henry5075
Macon48318
Fayette4628
Sumter43819
Cleburne3825
Lamar3702
Choctaw35112
Greene30315
Coosa1723
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