March 17, 2020

5 Things To Know About Our Investigation Into Mississippi's Prison Crisis

by Charles Douglas Owens, II (author's profile)


5 things to know about our investigation into Mississippi's prison crisis

Alissa Zhu, Mississipi Clarion Ledger Published 12:03 p.m. CT March 4, 2020

Here are five takeaways from the Clarion Ledger's investigation into Mississipi's prison crisis.

Four factors contributed to the crisis, experts say

After an eruption of violence at Mississipi prisons, many were left wondering: How did we get here? Who is at fault?

According to inmates and experts interviewed by the Clarion Ledger, including a former corrections commissioner, a longtime prison monitor, and advocates for reform, factors include:
1. Sentencing policies leading to high rates of incarceration
2. Political appointments of corrections commissioners who had no experience running prisons
3. Funding cuts to the Mississippi Department of Corrections by Mississipi lawmakers
4. MDOC's lack of transparency

Read the story here: Mississipi prison's a ticking time bomb' How did we get here? Who's at fault? (

More people were killed in prison in January than any other year in recent memory

In January alone, there were more prison homicides than the total for any other year since at least 2014. One longtime prison watchdog said the level of violence was unprecedented in recent memory.

Since Dec. 29, 22 people have died while in custody of MDOC.

Analysis: For inmates, Mississipi is a deadlier state than most. This year could be a record (

The founding of Mississipi's oldest and most infamous prison was rooted in brutality and racism

Historically known as Parchman Farm, the Mississipi State Penitentiary was established in 1901 and now occupies a sprawling 18,000 acres in the heart of the fertile Delta. It was, as Historian David Oshinsky said (https//, "the closest thing to slavery that survived the Civil War."

Now some activists — including celebrities Jay-Z and Yo Gotti ( — are calling on the state to shut down Parchman and end its "legacy of despair" (/story/news/2020/01/15/parchman-unit-29-found-unsafe-mississippi-prison-inmates/4465269002/) forever.

Learn more: Hard time, brutal conditions: A history of Parchman prison (


Replies (2) Replies feed

GN22 Posted 7 months, 3 weeks ago. ✓ Mailed 7 months, 3 weeks ago   Favorite
Thanks for writing! I worked on the transcription for your post.

Charles Douglas Owens, II Posted 6 months, 2 weeks ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

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