The state prison crisis has hit Columbia through the transfer of inmates to the Marion County Regional Jail.
At the Board of Supervisors meeting Thursday morning, Warden Derek Mingo said they would be picking up 25 inmates who are currently assigned to the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.
“The unrest at Parchman where prisoners were being assaulted and killed in gang wars, they found out the conditions in the prison were not conducive to housing inmates,” Mingo said.
As 2019 came to an end and the new year began, riots broke out in the prison system all over the state. Five inmates were killed in gang-related violence: three at Parchman, one from the South Mississippi Correctional Institution and one at the Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility. In addition two inmates escaped from Parchman but have since been recaptured.
Pictures from cellphones, which had been smuggled into the prison, have appeared on social media sites showing deplorable conditions, such as peeling paint, lack of water, broken toilets and exposed wires. One video even showed an inmate being murdered as other prisoners cheered.
That chaos has led the state to try to reduce the inmate population at Parchman.
Since the beginning of December, the Marion County jail has received 135 new state prisoners. Sheriff Berkley Hall said when the Issaquena County Regional Jail was closed in December due to financial issues, Marion County received 75 extra men.
Hall said the women’s side of the facility, which had been closed, has now been reopened to house male state inmates. Mingo said they have hired four new correctional officers to accommodate.
The state contract with the jail is for a flat rate for 270 prisoners. Mingo said they have 90 inmates over the 270. The jail bills the state for each inmate over the 270 at a rate of $20 per day per individual.
“It maxed us out at the men’s facility. The women’s facility has been nothing but a burden ever since they pulled all of them and a dead cost. We are starting to house state male inmates there to make more revenue,” Hall said.