Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Background (Preamble):
Mr. Havard, accused and convicted of murdering the six-month-old child of his girlfriend and who has been incarcerated on death row at the Mississippi State Prison in Parchman, Mississippi for the past several years.

You will find that this particular case is a classic example of the "good ole boys" injustice that continues to dominate the political structure of Mississippi. The incompetence of the unqualified officials responsible for the young man's death sentence is beyond belief. The coroner in this case was not a medical doctor. His prior employment was that of an ambulance medic and had received only forty hours of training for his elected position.

The pathologist who testified for the state, it was learned, had never been certified. The defense provided for the accused presented no expert testimony, and the actual defense attorney was later indicted on serious illegal drug charges. The circuit court clerk who recorded and published the findings in this case was indicted for stealing funds from the state.

The initial charge for which Mr. Havard was convicted was shaken baby syndrome with an underlying felony of sexual battery. His appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court resulted in the refutation of all charges excepting the underlying felony, leaving it up to the accused and his defense to explain the 1cm bruise supposedly found on the infant's thigh at the time of autopsy.

The defendant had admitted from the beginning that he had accidentally dropped the child in the process of giving her a bath. In a frantic effort to revive the child, both the defendant and the child's mother attempted vigorous resuscitation. Logic would suggest that either could have been responsible for the 1cm bruise.

I implore you and your associates to thoroughly review Mr. Havard's case. By doing so, I feel certain you will want to employ your influence towards preventing the wrongful death of an intelligent, delightful and innocent young man who has much to offer his family, friends and society.


I ask everyone to write to the governor and let him know that Jeff should be free.

Go to his web site and all the information will be there, facts and documented proof. There is no witness, no physical evidence, no motive other than the attorney for the state wanted to make a name for himself.

Write to:

Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139
Jackson, Mississippi 39205
1-877-405-0733 or 601-359-3150

Please pass this on to everyone you know that can help. By doing so, I feel certain you will want to employ your influence towards preventing the wrongful death of an intelligent, delightful and innocent young man who has much to offer his family, friends and society.

Or you can email:
The email will be sent.

Visit his web site:
and under "Friends Comments " leave your information and it will be sent.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Call and email

As temperatures begin to drop the DR inmates are without blankets and coats. Most nights the temps are as low as 50. Even the guards are coming to work, wearing a coat. The state inmates were given long johns while the DR inmates were given nothing. Many of the men have developed serious colds, and we fear the possibilities of pneumonia with the lack of proper medical care. They are now charging the DR inmates 6$ to see the Dr. The roof continues to leak although, they did calk around the windows. Some cells literally flood when it rains.

We need to have a massive call in, to correct these serious issues. Parchman has long been a facility that neglects the basic human necessities of the inmates.

in the past we found mr. john mayo to be a fantastic advocate. i would recommend we contact him first.

Call and email;
Representative and Correction Committee Member,John Mayo
Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps
Superintendent Emmitt Sparkman
662-745-6611 or 661-359-5610

Monday, 19 September 2011

Beyond racism: lessons from the South on racial discrimination and prejudice Seven lessons from the deep South on racism, racial discrimination, and prejudice.

By Patrik JonssonStaff writer, photos by Melanie Stetson FreemanStaff photographer
James Young 
Philadelphia, Miss.
How does a black man win the highest political office in this majority-white town, infamous for one of the vilest acts of racial violence in modern American history?
knows precisely. The chatty, barrel-chested Pentecostal pastor and former town ambulance worker became the city's first black mayor last year, mainly by promising he wouldn't fix anybody's traffic tickets. But despite his well-known face and pro-business outlook, Mr. Young admits he still bears the burden of his race in the eyes of many townspeople.
So how did he overcome the racial odds? "My philosophy is that I refuse to stop the truck and get out to fight you," he says. "I'm going to keep moving forward."

READ MORE http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2010/0918/Beyond-racism-lessons-from-the-South-on-racial-discrimination-and-prejudice

Stop Torture in U.S. Prisons!

For more information about AFSC's campaign to stop torture in prison, visit: http://www.stopmax.org - On any given day, as many as 200,000 men and women are locked in solitary in U.S. prisons - alone for 23 hours a day. This video captures the visceral experience and long term impact of that isolation.

Victimization of Prison Inmates with Mental Illness Solitary confinement creates a dangerous cycle in some prison inmates.

Solitary Confinement and Victimization of Prison Inmates 


Some inmates use aggressive or disruptive behavior to cope with the traumatic stress of being in prison. These inmates are repeatedly sent to segregation units as punishment.

Each time, they emerge with increasingly more severe aggressive and violent behaviors, including criminal victimization of vulnerable inmates.

They come out looking for a target for their intense rage, and often that target is a mentally ill inmate who is too disoriented, depressed, or distracted by hallucinations to be able to defend himself.

Mentally ill inmates start out with limited resources to defend themselves against physical and sexual violence. If the targeted inmate is taking antipsychotic medication, his capacity to keep himself safe may be compromised even further by delayed reactions to stimuli. This is a common side effect of antipsychotic drugs.

Inmates with bipolar mania or paranoid schizophrenia are the most likely to be sent to solitary confinement as punishment for defiant or bizarre behavior.

Others, particularly inmates with post-traumatic stress disorder, choose to stay in their cells all day in order to avoid being attacked out on the exercise yard.

And for inmates with major depressive disorder or catatonic schizophrenia, isolation and withdrawal is a characteristic symptom of their illness.


Today's date is 8/11/1992. Time is 7:40pm. Present is myself, Det. Robert Dawson along with Ms. Rachael Walker. We are going to be interviewing her in case #92-089426 charge of Capitol Murder and Armed Robbery of charter 61 South on 8/7/92 of this year approximately 2:58am.
Det. Dawson: Ms. Walker, was your rights read to you, on this piece of paper?
Rachael Walker: Yes they was.
Det. Dawson: Ok, can you state your name, address, date of birth and all that for me?
Rachael Walker: .... inaudible.......
Det. Dawson: State your......
Rachael Walker: Rachael Walker, March 3, 1966
Det. Dawson: Go ahead, do you have a phone?
Rachael Walker: No Sir.
Det. Dawson: Ok, Ms. Walker. On August 7,1992, approximately 2:52am. A robbery and a shooting was occurred on 61 South what taken the life of Ms. Margret Day which is charged.... Capital Murder charge at this time. Are there anything or uh.... you can tell me or what you know about this charge?
Rachael Walker: Well, I know Joseph Brown killer her.
Det. Dawson: How you know Joseph Brown killer her?
Rachael Walker: I was sitting outside in his... in his... in the vehicle when he pulled up... couple of shots.
Det. Dawson: What kind of vehicle was ya'll in?
Rachael Walker: In a black truck..... inaudible... picked the uh.... after she fell he got the cash register and picked it up and come outside and got in the truck and pulled off.
Det. Dawson: Ok, where did he put the cash register in the truck?
Rachael Dawson: On the front seat of the truck and then he went downtown and after he got the money out of the cash register....
What.... what kind of money did he get out of the cash register?
Rachael Dawson: Some ones and quarters, nickels, and dimes, and a two dollar bill and he went stole some dope and then he got out and left and went somewhere and come back. I don't know where he went to but he left me downtown and then the person that he.... that he had had..... it was his pistol and I... he asked me for to see if I could get anything for it and I asked Floyd cause I knew him for to let me borrow two......
Det. Dawson: Floyd... Floyd who... who is you talking about?
Rachael Walker: Floyd... Floyd Newman to let me borrow twenty dollars and I will come back to Joseph and he went .... inaudible.... again from doing it and got high and we stayed right uptown all.... all that night and say about seven fifty that morning we left there and then went to my sister house.
Det. Dawson: Ok, probably what time did ya'll come down there in the 200 block?
Rachael Walker: Between three and three thirty.
Det. Dawson: Ok the truck, was it a ford, Chevrolet or what?
Rachael Walker: a black, it was a black ford. Didn't have a tag on it.
Det. Dawson: Ok, did you see Mr. Joseph Brown when he shot the lady, what happened after you heard the shot, what did you see happen?
Rachael Walker: When he shot the her she grabbed her chest and she then... then he shot her again. I don't know where he shot at and then she turned around and he shot .... the gun.... evidentially shot two or three more times and she fell and he grabbed the cash register and come out the store.
Det. Dawson: Did he tell you he shot this lady?
Rachael Walker: He didn't say anything to me, he just got the cash register and got in the truck and pulled off and it wasn't no cars coming on the highway any... no whole of traffic then.
Now just with that part of one of Rachael's statement there is many inconsistencies. She stated in one statement Joseph was with her when she sold the gun. She had also stated that he was with her when he bought drugs. She also stated in court that Joseph told her when he got in the truck, "if you love me you wont tell anyone". In yet another statement she stated it was a yellow truck, then at another time, said it was a car with two men inside. Joseph never gave a statement upon his arrest cause he had no clue what he was being arrested for. He couldn't tell them, what he didn't know! Sharon Grinell testified Joseph wasn't running downtown with Rachael. She didn't see him with her at all after the arrived downtown.
After Joseph is arrested he was put on second floor, he found out Rachael is on third floor. He had a trustee, Larry Gooden to take her a note (not knowing he was taking them to the police first to be copied) to let her know he was okay and to ask how she was. For about a year Rachael and* posh passed notes back and forth, to keep each other up to what they were hearing about the case, and what they were doing through lawyers and family to try to help with this ( Joseph had no idea at this point that Rachael was any part of this crime. If his lawyer knew, he never told him, so the thought never crossed his mind at that point). He wrote in his letters that Rachael should flush and destroy them. Not because of any guilt like they claimed, but because he didn't want to get the trustee in any trouble for passing notes. They were not allowed to do that in jail.
Sadly this story is all true, but a innocent man sits at Parchman Prison on Death Row with no evidence except uncreditable witness statements. Rachael story has changed many times, but Joseph's has always remained the same.
by Michelle Schmude

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Change of venue sought in Ol Mississippi player.


Lawyers for the family of a dead University of Mississippi football player on Monday argued against moving a lawsuit over the student's death to Lafayette County, where Ole Miss is based.


August 7th-8th 1992 ( Joseph's own words)
I was living on Garden Street in Natchez Mississippi (Adams County). The morning of August 7th I borrowed a car belonging to my cousin Charles Jones, and I went to my moms home on Johnson Street and picked up the check for the R.A. do. Once done, I went back home to Garden Street to get ready to go out to score some drugs. After driving around Natchez without much success, I along with Rachel made our way to Ferriday Louisiana. Rachel was my live in girlfriend (at the time). This was around 11am, when we made it to Ferriday, where I scored an ounce of crack cocaine. I then drove back to Garden Street, where I cooked, cut and bagged the drugs for sale later. While I was doing that Rachel went shop-lifting for cloths for that night, to go out on the town. Once the drugs were bagged, I sat on the stoop of my home and sold, until I had enough money to re-up again and so on. When Rachel made it back I bathed, dressed and we left for the night. I drove to Daisy Street (to the rocks) and scored an already cooked crack dope. Went inside the store bought alcohol. Then we picked up Sharon Grinell (who was walking). The three of us went to the 200 block of downtown Natchez, behind Mike's Place (barbershop). This was around 10pm. Once parked I sat and cut up the dope, I just bought, then stepped out. I sat on the hood of the car. People were already out there, loads of them. I met a few, we kicked it, got high socialising. As far as knowing them, the only people I knew were Rachel and Sharon, until around midnight when Clarence "bear" Anderson and Michael McMorris came behind Mike's Place. You had people coming and going all night, but I remained Mike's Place the whole night. I am not sure of the time, but my cousin Charles came to get his (car?) While I was back there. I offered him money for the use but he refused, saying it was 'ok'. Rachel and Sharon came and went all through the night. As day-break Rachel and I walked from the 200 block to her sister Carolyn's home, on Bishop Street. We talked to her sister as she was leaving home for work, then we went inside around 9am (August 8th). Rachel called one of her friends, then left to go shop-liftingfor the rest of the day, so we could have dope for later on that night. When she left I went to Garden Street and home, and crashed for a few hours.

My story of what happened that night, has never changed. Rachel has told three totally different stories of the events of that night. Rachel said I was with with here when she sold a gun, but witnesses said I was not. Rachel said I was with her when she bought dope with marked bills from the register, witnesses said I was not. Rachel said I put the cash register in the back of the truck, no witnesses saw this register, and still to this day has never been found. Rachel said I filled the truck with gas, went in gas station got drinks, and snack, went to register shot the woman four times carried register out with snacks and drinks...mind you, never dropping a thing, or leaving fingerprints while while high on crack cocaine. Rachel also wrote a letter to my mother, that stated I did not commit this crime, and was forced into saying I did. My attorney James Craig has this letter.

In July or August 1993 Is when I first met Larry Bernard, he first approached me and asked if I had a brother called Junebug, who got a kid by Natalie. I said sure, he showed me a picture and mentioned his son. That was the length of our talk. Next thing I hear about him, he got a statement from me saying I robbed and killed a store clerk.
I had been in jail a year at that time. I had been around people I had known all my life, and I never once told them I did this crime (YET) here I am (if it is to be believed) telling a total stranger I killed someone-- UNBELIEVABLE!

It was also around this time that they brought Clarence "bear" Anderson to jail, one of the two people who was with me the night this happened. I asked him if remembered that night, he said yes, so I sent him to my lawyer Donald Ogden to make a statement, and he was suppose to be at trial to testify, but never showed up. I assume he made a deal with the DA to get off whatever charge he was in jail on.

I have spent the last twenty years of my life at Parchman Prison, on Death Row for a crime I didn't commit. Please help me get justice....

Monday, 12 September 2011


In May 1991, 19-year-old Bell was charged for the robbery and murder of store clerk Bert Bell (no relation). He was tried, convicted and sentenced to death in 1993, largely because his trial attorneys failed to even investigate the case or conduct DNA testing beforehand.

Since 1993, Bell has sat caged in a prison cell on
Mississippi's death row, denied access to the courts, despite newly discovered evidence that strongly suggests he is completely innocent in this case. Bell's conviction was based on the testimony of the state's star witness, Frank Coffey. However, since the trial, Coffey has come forward and recanted his testimony, stating in an affidavit that he was coerced by police to finger Bell. In addition, a member of the victim's family sat on the jury in Bell's trial, violating the principle that jury members should be impartial. Despite these glaring problems in a case that exhibits all signs of Jim Crow justice, the state of Mississippi continues to claim that Bell received a fair and adequate trial, and every court has denied him a hearing on his claims of new evidence.

Additional evidence exists that should have been DNA-tested before the trial--a bottle found at the crime scene, which the state used to build the case against him. Fingerprints that don't match Bell's were also recovered from
the cash register, but Bell's lawyers failed to file motions to have the fingerprints examined, a procedure that could help to reveal the real criminal.

"For nearly 2 decades, the state of Mississippi has gotten away with sending my brother to death row, despite insufficient evidence to prove that he committed this crime, and now they want to execute him despite evidence that should have been tested years ago," said Tonja Bell-Glaspie, Bell's sister, in a telephone interview.

"This case, like many past cases within the criminal justice system, and death row in particular, clearly illustrates the problem of being denied the opportunity to present newly discovered evidence. The state of Mississippi has kept other innocent men on death row for decades. This is only a lynching, and it must stop."

Ignoring newly discovered evidence has left many innocent men sitting on death row for years before being finally exonerated. In some cases, innocent men were executed because of the rush to judgment by prosecutors.

Frederick Bell 81039



Listen to internet radio with Black Talk Radio on Blog Talk Radio

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Where justice is denied,

Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
Frederick Douglass ,

The Bite-Marks Men Mississippi's criminal forensics disaster.

Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer. Click image to expand.


Between them, Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks served more than 30 years in Parchman Penitentiary in Mississippi. Brewer was sentenced to death, Brooks to life without parole. The crimes for which each was convicted are remarkably similar: A female toddler was abducted from her home, raped, murdered, and abandoned in the woods. In each case, Mississippi District Attorney Forrest Allgood decided early on that the boyfriend of the girl's mother was the culprit. In each case, he asked Dr. Steven Hayne to perform the autopsy. And in each case, Dr. Hayne called in Dr. Michael West to perform some analysis of bite marks on the children. West claimed to have found bite marks that had been missed by other medical professionals and then testified in court that he could definitively match these marks to the teeth of the men Allgood suspected of committing the murders.

In each case, West was wrong. Two weeks ago, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced that police had arrested 51-year-old Albert Johnson for the toddlers' murders. Johnson's DNA matched that found at the scene in both crimes. And according to Hood, when confronted with the evidence, Johnson confessed to both crimes. Brewer and Brooks were released from prison last week. These may turn out to be the first in a string of exonerations we'll see coming out of Mississippi. For the last 20 years, the state's criminal autopsy system has been in disrepair. Nearly every institution in the state has failed to do anything about it.
Last November, I wrote an investigative feature for Reason magazine about all of this, focusing in particular on the way in which Dr. Hayne has come to monopolize the state's autopsy business. I was astonished by what I found. Contrary to the story lines on shows such as CSI, forensics is far from an exact science. Even something seemingly as precise as DNA testing still requires careful preservation of evidence and is subject to human error and malfeasance. One key problem is that forensics labs often fall under the auspices of prosecutors. Even honest crime-lab workers, medical examiners, and other experts can be subtly influenced to make evidence conform to a prosecutor's wishes. In recent years, scandals have rocked crime labs across the country, even labs once considered world-class, such as the FBI's crime lab and the state lab in Virginia. In Mississippi, what's especially troubling is that state officials have had plenty of warning that something is wrong, and they've steadfastly refused to do anything about it.
According to the National Association of Medical Examiners, a doctor should perform no more than 250 autopsies per year. Dr. Hayne has testified that he performs 1,200 to 1,800 autopsies per year. Sources I spoke with who have visited Hayne's practice say he and his assistants will frequently have multiple bodies open at once, sometimes smoking cigars and even eating sandwiches while moving from corpse to corpse. They prefer to work at night, adding to their macabre reputation.
Hayne isn't board-certified in forensic pathology, though he often testifies that he is. The only accepted certifying organization for forensic pathology is the American Board of Pathology. Hayne took that group's exam in the 1980s and failed it. Hayne's pal Dr. West is even worse. West has been subject to exposés by 60 Minutes, Time, and Newsweek. He once claimed he could definitively trace the bite marks in a half-eaten bologna sandwich left at the crime scene back to the defendant. He has compared his bite-mark virtuosity to Jesus Christ and Itzhak Perlman. And he claims to have invented a revolutionary system of identifying bite marks using yellow goggles and iridescent light that, conveniently, he says can't be photographed or duplicated.
Mississippi's system is set up in a way that increases the pressure on forensics experts to find what prosecutors want them to find. The state is one of several that elect county coroners to oversee death investigations. The office requires no medical training, only a high-school diploma, and it commonly goes to the owner of the local funeral home. If a coroner suspects a death may be due to criminal activity, he'll consult with the district attorney or sheriff, then send the body to a private-practice medical examiner for an autopsy. The problem here is that a medical examiner who returns unsatisfactory results to a prosecutor jeopardizes his chance of future referrals. Critics say Hayne has become the preferred medical examiner for Mississippi's coroners and district attorneys, because they can rely on him to deliver the diagnoses they're looking for.
Under state law, this whole process is supposed to be overseen by a board-certified state medical examiner. The last two people to hold that office, Dr. Lloyd White from 1988 to 1992 and Dr. Emily Ward from 1993 to 1995, were appalled at the way the state was handling death investigations. Both tried to implement reforms. And both were met with fiery resistance. Dr. Ward's tenure was particularly raucous. West (who at the time was the elected county coroner for Forrest County) circulated a petition signed by slightly more than half the state's coroners calling for her resignation. The legislature has largely refused to fund the office since. It's been vacant since 1995.
Meanwhile, as Hayne continues to do autopsies and testify, defense attorneys in a handful of cases have attempted to impeach him by citing my reporting, as well as the other criticism from Hayne's peers. The courts have dismissed these motions. They also often refuse even to give an indigent defendant funds to hire his own expert to review Hayne's work, leaving Hayne as the only medical expert to testify at trial.
That's what happened in the case of Jeffrey Havard, on death row in Parchman for killing his girlfriend's infant daughter. Before trial, Havard's lawyer asked the court for money to hire an outside expert, citing concerns about Hayne's credibility. The request was denied. After Havard's conviction, his legal team was able to get former Alabama State Medical Examiner Dr. Jim Lauridson to review Hayne's work. Lauridson found it lacking, to say the least. He told me last fall that Havard's case is "a travesty of justice." Yet in a ruling Kafka would not believe, the Mississippi Supreme Court refused to even consider Lauridson's review of Hayne's autopsy. The review was new evidence, the court determined, and should have been introduced at trial.
After the Brewer and Brooks exonerations last week, the Innocence Project's Peter Neufeld called for an investigation into Hayne and West. Even before that investigation happens, Hayne and West should stop testifying or doing autopsies. The state also needs to review every case in which either of these two men has ever testified; such investigations have followed forensic scandals in West Virginia, Oklahoma City, Houston, and other places.
As those other scandals indicate, Mississippi certainly isn't the first state to have problems with its forensics system. The difference is that other jurisdictions have responded with thorough investigations and honest efforts to correct deficiencies and repair damage done. Over the years, Mississippi has had ample such opportunities, and state officials have done nothing. Perhaps more exonerations will force the state to change its bad ways. But thus far, there's no sign of that: In a recent article that ran in Jackson's Clarion-Ledger, Attorney General Hood defended Hayne's integrity and expertise, even as he was exonerating Brewer and Brooks, two men wrongly imprisoned due in part to Hayne's work.

State prison canteen contract needs more oversight

Written by
Charlie Mitchell
Contributing columnist

Many are serving time in Mississippi prisons and jails for ripping other people off. Now they know how it feels.
A package of Ramen soup mix costs 18 cents at Walmart in Greenwood. The same package costs 54 cents at the canteen up the road at the Mississippi State Prison at Parchman.
A lot of people are comfortable with overcharging prisoners for "comfort items." Some consider it part of their punishment.
But that ignores a couple of considerations.
First, it's the families - not the inmates themselves - who have to comeup with the cash to deposit into canteen accounts. If the family doesn't ante up, the prisoners don't just do without candy bars. Canteens also sell personal hygiene items and products most of us consider essential.
Second - and made clear in a study commissioned by the Legislature - is that this is not nickel and dime stuff.
Mississippi has 21,000 people behind bars. If they were all in one place, they'd form approximately the 15th-largest city in the state.
If each spent $10 a week on "extras" at canteens, the cash flow would be about $11 million per year.
There's little chance of finding where all the money goes because, as the state Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review learned, the financial waters are murky.
PEER Report 551, issued in June and available to anyone with Internet access, explains that the Mississippi Department of Corrections, without taking bids, "privatized" commissary services four years ago.
The full-service vendor is Keefe Commissary, LLC, a 46-year-old company that is a story unto itself.
Keefe is the Walmart for folks behind bars across America.
The company is a corrections administrator's dream come true. Keefe not only screens products appropriate to sell in prisons (can't be formed into weapons or processed into narcotics), but also has specially designed software to track purchases and credit or debit inmate accounts. They do it all. Prison administrators get a sales report and a check.
PEER says it was apparently legal for MDOC to enter the exclusive deal without a bid process because it was an expansion of an existing business deal. PEER does recommend opening the process to other bidders. In his written response to the PEER study, MDOC Commissioner Christopher Epps agrees ... in a way.
Specifically, Epps says he wouldn't be opposed to taking competitive proposals so long as proposals were only allowed from companies with the same size, stature and experience as Keefe. (There don't appear to be any.)
Pricing is another area.
The PEER report pulls no punches: "MDOC cannot assure that Keefe charges inmates and their families reasonable prices for commissary items."
The actual contract calls for Keefe to use "the average of convenience store prices" and gives Epps veto authority over increases, but PEER said none of this is documented, meaning there simply are no checks. Keefe can charge its shoppers, who, of course, can't go down the street for a better price, whatever it wants.
In Florida and other states, Keefe's contract and price lists are published.
Where the money goes is a final topic. The contractual split at public prisons in Mississippi is 29.4 percent on gross sales for MDOC. The remaining 70.6 percent is to go to Keefe, which includes the cost of goods sold. But an actual PEER accounting for three years, shows that out of $24 million in sales, MDOC got a mere $3 million which, by statute, went to the MDOC-managed Inmate Welfare Fund.
And MDOC says the fund is audited and "clean," but PEER questions some spending, including funds for vehicles.
The burdens inmates and their families face is not a cause of much concern. No lawmaker campaigns on "fairness for prisoners."
Yet constitutional theory, at least, holds that society is to bear the cost of incarceration and that is improper to seize the assets of criminals if not related to their crimes. Clearly, the state's contract with Keefe dances close to a line.
Sometimes PEER studies that detect waste, inefficiency or lack of accountability result in reforms. Sometimes they don't.
It would speak well of the Legislature if it made changes requiring Keefe to be at least as accountable here as in other states where the company has the franchise.
Charlie Mitchell is a Mississippi journalist. Write to him at Box 1, University, MS 38677, or e-mail cmitchell43@yahoo.com.

Ricky Chase


I'm currently on Mississippi Death Row and have been here since March 1, 1990.

Ricky Chase #74170

 Unit 29 bldg J

Parcham MS 38738


Iuka woman appeals death penalty sentence

IUKA — Mississippi death row inmate Michelle Byrom wants a federal judge to hold a court hearing related to her death sentence.
WTVA-TV reports attorneys for Byrom filed court requests this month for the hearing.
The 54-year-old Iuka woman is one of three people convicted in the murder of her husband, Edward Byrom. He was killed at the couple's home in 1999.
During her 2000 trial, testimony focused on a plan with her son and another man to kill her husband. Michelle Byrom was in an Iuka hospital when Edward Byrom was shot and killed.
She was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.

Mississippi death row inmate loses appeal

A federal appeals court says a Mississippi court did not err in barring jurors from seeing a videotape made by a former butcher who had claimed it might have prevented him getting a death sentence.
Gary Carl Simmons Jr. was convicted of capital murder in 1997 in Jackson County and sentenced to death for chopping up the body of a Texas drug dealer and raping the victim's girlfriend.
According to court documents, Simmons made the videotape shortly before his arrest. Simmons claimed in his motion for a new trial that he expressed remorse for his actions. Such a display could have resulted in a different sentence, Simmons contended.
A trial judge had said the videotape couldn't be played during the sentencing phase of Simmons' trial.
In 2006, the Mississippi Supreme Court rejected Simmons' claim. The Mississippi court said it agreed with the trial judge that allowing the videotape's use during the sentencing phase would've been self-serving hearsay, especially because Simmons was permitted to offer evidence of his remorse for the murder of Jeffrey Wolfe through other witnesses.
A federal judge in Mississippi in 2008 upheld the ruling.
This past week, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision said in the videotape, addressed to his ex-wife and children, Simmons expressed remorse without directly admitting the murder.
The panel said that raised questions about whether Simmons has an ulterior motive for creating the tape.
"While it is true that evidence of Simmons' remorse was important to the jury's consideration of mitigating factors, the videotape was not the sole avenue he had to provide such evidence. Simmons chose not to testify at the sentencing hearing, at which time he could have expressed his remorse in person. Introducing the videotape without testifying would have allowed Simmons to show that he felt remorse without the ability to cross-examine him," the panel said.
The panel said the trial judge did not disallow evidence that Simmons was remorseful for his actions; instead, he excluded a particular item in which Simmons expressed remorse because the court found it unreliable hearsay.
Wolfe was killed in August 1996 after he came to Simmons' Pascagoula home to collect on a drug debt, according to court records.
Timothy Milano, Simmons' co-defendant and the person authorities said shot Wolfe, was convicted on the same charges and sentenced to life in prison.
Simmons worked as a grocery store butcher when he and Milano were charged with killing Wolfe. Police said the pair kidnapped Wolfe and his female friend and later assaulted the woman and locked her in a box.
Police found parts of Wolfe's dismembered body at Simmons' house, in the yard and at a nearby bayou.

Thalia Outlaw - Mississippi

Thalia Outlaw is serving life in prison for something she did NOT do. She was convicted in 1999 of murder. In fact, it was self defense in a domestic situation with a man whom she was no longer involved with and who continued to harass and stalk her. The vandalism of her property and physical assaults on her person had become overwhelming for her. Three months pregnant with her youngest child and only daughter, Thalia had moved on and was involved with another man. This did not stop her obsessed ex-boyfriend from continuing to stalk her.

On the morning of July 6, 1997, Thalia woke to find her car vandalized and the extra set of keys to her car and home missing AND a flat tire on her vehicle. Knowing who had done this (because he had called and harassed her telling her what he was going to do), she asked a friend to ride with her to retrieve her extra keys from the ex. Thalia did make a mistake that day; she did NOT call the police. But the police had failed her on the prior occasions and having had a similar incident occur approximately a week prior she felt she would be safe and be able to get her keys back without incident.

That was not the case. Upon arriving at a mutual friends home, Thalia approached her ex-boyfriend and asked for her keys back. An immediate physical attack on her person began by her ex using a knife. To this day, she carries the scars of those cuts.

At some point during the struggle over the knife, the ex received a wound to the upper clavicle area. This did not stop him; he continued to assault her with his fists hitting her in the stomach area raging that he would kill her and her unborn child. The "mutual friend" that was there interceded and the ex-boyfriend left the home and drove to the hospital. Thalia left the home and drove by the hospital in an attempt to have her injuries looked at but seeing the car there of her attacker, she proceeded to the police station to file another assault charge.

Thalia never left the police station that day. As she was finishing her report, the call came that the ex boyfriend had died; Thalia was charged with murder and spent 3 days in jail. An individual in the jail recommended an attorney to her; she called and he came to "help".

Thalia was told by several investigators and police officers that they knew this was self defense and that she didn't need to worry. Trusting the system to work, Thalia plead NOT GUILTY. After all, how could she be guilty when the alleged weapon was never in her possession?

A year and a half later Thalia went to trial. In a day and a half and less than 2 hours of deliberation, Thalia was convicted of murder and sentenced to life. Not one of the prior assault charges were presented to the Court to establish the history of domestic abuse. The missing "weapon" was not available to prove that she never had it in her possession. Further, the many discrepancies in testimony were not pursued by her counsel. In fact, he was chastised during the trial for whistling during court.

Having no family in Mississippi to offer support, Thalia has hung on in a Mississippi prison with no help from anyone. Filing her PCR's and appeals, with no information from her case and no copies of the police reports, Thalia has found herself time barred to pursue her innocence.

Knox Lawsuit filed on behalf of DR inmates.


ACLU involvement due to poor conditions at Parchman.


June 4, 2010
Facility Was Plagued By Inhumane Conditions And Lack Of Medical And Mental Health Care
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union and the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) today struck a deal to shutter the notorious Unit 32 at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, the subject of a longstanding ACLU lawsuit challenging inhumane conditions and a lack of medical and mental health care.

As part of the deal, which paves the way for resolving the ACLU lawsuit, MDOC officials have pledged to transfer the entire population of Unit 32 to other facilities over the course of the next several months, move all seriously mentally ill prisoners to MDOC's mental health facility in Meridian, MS and remedy the inadequate medical and mental health care in Unit 32 so long as any prisoners remain there. As part of the agreement, the ACLU will also monitor during the next year the medical and mental health care provided at all of the facilities in the state to which Unit 32 prisoners will be transferred to ensure they meet constitutional requirements.

"We applaud MDOC Commissioner Christopher Epps' decision to take this important step, and the work that he and his staff have undertaken during the course of the Unit 32 litigation to reform one of the worst prisons in the nation," said Margaret Winter, Associate Director of the ACLU National Prison Project. "These reforms have resulted in considerable savings to the taxpayers of the state of Mississippi, and more importantly the community is far safer as a result of these reforms because prisoners are not doing their time in an incubator for violence and mental illness."

The ACLU, in collaboration with the law firm Holland & Knight, filed a lawsuit in 2002 on behalf of all of Unit 32's death row prisoners, charging that they were held 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, in cells where summer heat indexes reached 120 degrees, the toilets were non-functional, the housing areas were routinely awash in sewage from broken plumbing and they were subjected day and night to the ravings of severely psychotic prisoners whose mental illnesses were left untreated.

In 2005, the ACLU filed a new lawsuit that sought an expansion of the remedies won on behalf of the death row prisoners to Unit 32's entire population, which consisted of more than 1,000 men in permanent lockdown status, many of them for decades, in some of the harshest and most violent conditions in the nation. Though characterized as being the "worst of the worst," a significant percentage of Unit 32's prisoners were held there only because they had HIV, were seriously mentally ill or needed protective custody. They were permanently locked down in solitary confinement with no possibility of earning their way to a less restrictive environment through good behavior.

In 2006, MDOC entered into a far-reaching consent decree with the ACLU, which resulted in profound changes in Unit 32 during the past four years. Programs were developed whereby prisoners could earn their way out of solitary confinement through good behavior and by the fall of 2007, the prison population in solitary confinement was reduced from over 1,000 to 150. Incidents of violence have also plummeted.

"This is nothing short of a huge success story," said Winter. "This facility was truly a dangerous and degrading environment for prisoners and staff alike. The fact that this facility is now being closed is a great end to the long road that we have been on."

A copy of the agreement, filed today with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, is available online at:

Additional information about the ACLU National Prison Project is available online at:

Mississippi currently has 57 inmates on death row

Mississippi currently has 57 inmates on death row, 2 woman, and 55 men. Two more Habeas have been denied in these last few weeks. These men are being picked off one by one with no regard to the Knox Lawsuit, where so many were given inadequate representation while in Post Conviction. The Lawyers themselves have openly admitted this in court documents. Cases pushed through with mere skeleton briefs filed. This next year there could be as many as 15 executions in Mississippi alone.
 @ Michelle Schmude

Botched executions


US Supreme Court admitted that Parchman violated constitutional rights at Parchman.


Fugitive Justice In Mississippi


When a prisoner escapes from the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, "the chase" begins. The scene is similar to that of a hunting club, but the prey are human convicts.
Trusty prisoners at Parchman work overtime, preparing coffee, sandwiches and other food for the members of the chase.
The K-9 tactical unit goes into motion: the horses are saddled, the hunting dogs are let-loose, and the police band radios in the prison pick-up trucks crackle.
If the prisoners are caught (although may do actually outwit the prisons' Emergency Response Team), this rare anthropological rite intensifies. The apprehended prisoners are beaten, and many times killed: as were the men in these photographs.
In 1991, inmate Larry Floyd escaped from Parchman by driving an automobile off the institutional grounds. Floyd wrecked the vehicle a few miles down Highway 49, south of the sprawling prison. A posse of jackbooted prison guards captured him; and he was severely beaten to within an inch of his life.
Mississippi Attorney General, Mike Moore, and his team of prosecutors, on charges of police brutality, brought numerous prison officials to federal court. Several guards were convicted and sent to federal prison.
One of the guards who were acquitted, Christopher Epps, was recently named Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Caution! - The photos you are about to see are disturbing. They are of the killings at Parchman by prison guards. Open with care. You must be 18 years or older to review.
We do not know the names of the victims in these photos. We place them here on our website in the hopes that someone will come forward to identify these men.
Letter to Mississippi Department of Archives and History
Letter to Library of Congress

Grand jury indicates six Parchman guards in the brutal beating of Larry Floyd

16 Jun 1994 – A Federal grand jury in Mississippi has indicted six state corrections employees, ... in Parchman, who is now the deputy commissioner of Mississippi's ... and guards beat, kicked and pistol-whipped the inmate, Larry Floyd, 33. .


Friday, 9 September 2011

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Freedom Riders: The Music

Group singing provided solace for Freedom Riders facing the constant threat of violence. It was also an effective political tool. "Without singing, we would have lost our sense of solidarity," John Lewis says. Watch the broadcast premiere of FREEDOM RIDERS on Monday, May 16th, 2011 at 9/8c (check your local PBS listings).

Braving Burning Busses and Brutal Beatings


Santa Barbara Freedom Rider to Appear on Oprah.


It was 50 years ago when Jorgia Bordofsky spent 40 days locked up in the maximum-security wing of Mississippi’s notorious Parchman penitentiary for the crime of premeditatedly traveling on a train with black people. Young, beautiful, and outraged, Bordofsky — then 19 — was one of 450 Freedom Riders to be arrested in Jackson, Mississippi, in the summer of 1961. This week, Bordofsky, now a longtime Santa Barbara resident and health-care professional, was one of 180 Freedom Riders to be invited to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show to recount her experiences. “Things have changed a lot since then,” she said. “I don’t need my 15 minutes of fame; people have to understand things can change.”
<strong>JAILED FOR A CAUSE:</strong>  Booking photo of Jorgia Siegel (before she was married) in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1961.
Click to enlarge photo
Courtesy Photo
JAILED FOR A CAUSE: Booking photo of Jorgia Siegel (before she was married) in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1961.
Back then, Bordofsky — then Jorgia Siegel — was attending UC Berkeley when she heard a speaker describe the violence unfolding in the Southern United States when black and white Freedom Riders attempted to integrate the interstate highways by riding Greyhound and Trailways buses, then rigidly segregated, together. In some cases, the buses were lit on fire or bombed. In others, their tires were slashed, and the offending passengers violently attacked by angry Southern whites seeking to uphold segregation. Bordofsky, who grew up in what would later become Watts, was horrified. “This is what’s going on in my country?” she asked. “People will beat you up and kill you because you’re in an integrated group?” The daughter of Jewish progressives, Bordofsky remembers her high school being integrated. But she also remembers a cross being burned in her neighborhood, accompanied by warning signs that read “No Jews or Colored After Dark.” When the speaker she heard at Berkeley described a campaign then underway to overwhelm the jail cells of the south with nonviolent protestors, Bordofsky stepped up. “Part of it was from being Jewish,” she said. “That’s an important part; we didn’t want to be like the Germans before World War II.”
She hopped a train from Los Angeles to New Orleans, where she and about 400 others were trained in the techniques of nonviolent resistance. During her time there, she was put up in the home of movement supporters. At New Orleans on June 20, 1961, she and 13 others — three blacks, 11 whites, five women and nine men — took a train to Jackson. The police were waiting when the train arrived. “Someone said, ‘You all move on out,’ and we didn’t move. So they threw us in the paddy wagon and that was the end of it.”
Not exactly. From there, Bordofsky was taken to the first of three jails she would be confined in. Initially, she was mistaken for “a mulatto” because of her tan and placed in a cell with black women. When the jailers recognized their mistake, they placed her in another cell that held about 25 people. There was one toilet in the corner. If you had to go, you went in front of everyone. Mattresses were caked in blood and urine. Then she was transferred to the Parchman Farm penitentiary, where she was given a black-and-white prison smock and placed in the maximum-security wing adjacent to Death Row. There, she would serve out the rest of her sentence, sharing a cell with two other women. But other Freedom Riders were on the same wing. One, a Greek history professor, gave daily lectures. Bordofsky said she learned how to make chess pieces out of bread dough and fashion makeshift playing cards out of toilet paper. Lights were kept on 24 hours a day. The guards clanged on the bars every three hours. To entertain herself, Bordofsky sang Broadway showtunes. “All of them,” she said. “What else are you going to do?”
After her 40 days, Bordofsky was released. Her bail money was raised by others in the movement. She would have to come back two more times for court appearances. “They were trying to bankrupt the movement by making us come back and forth so many times,” she said. The experience was not pleasant, but Bordofsky was not beaten or mistreated. “I knew I wasn’t going to live there the rest of my life,” she said. “That’s not the same for the people I met who lived there. They lost their jobs; their parents lost their jobs; they were kicked out of school.”
After her release, Bordofsky signed up to speak about her experiences, raise money, and recruit other Freedom Riders. “Wherever they told me to go, I went,” she said. One time, though, she asked to be dispatched to New York, where she met her husband, now a CPA. “Lo and behold, four children later, I live here in Santa Barbara,” she said.
Jorgia Bordofsky at her home in Santa Barbara in 2011.
Click to enlarge photo
Paul Wellman
Jorgia Bordofsky at her home in Santa Barbara in 2011.
Two years ago, Bordofsky was one of hundreds of Freedom Riders whose booking photos were featured in the powerful photojournalism book Breach of Peace. A year later, PBS produced a two-hour documentary on the Freedom Riders, which will air May 16. About a year ago, Oprah Winfrey saw a preview of that film. She was moved to track down a number of the 450 arrested in Jackson that summer and invite them on her show. “If I tell people about the rides, they’re polite, but if I say I’m going on Oprah, people say, ‘You’re going on Oprah?!’”
Who would have thought 50 years ago that a black man would be in the White House and that a black woman would be one of the most powerful celebrities on TV? In the meantime, Bordofsky is content to savor her 15 minutes of shared fame. “It’s all about showing that people can make a change, that people can change,” she said. “And maybe we can do it again.”

Brutality AT Parchman, Mississippi Death Row

(posted on my friend's behalf) On 7/13. Lt Antonio Gaithers come to my cell at 12:30/1am for a cell search. After strip searching me in the nude. He placed me handcuffs behind my back. Then placed shackles on my feet. After taking me out of the cell and into the hallway, he questioned me about a cell phone. Saying he was sent to get ...it. One word led to another and Lt gaithers then took his mace can out and sprayed me in the eyes with mace and then shoved me into the cell bars of the guy in the next cell.
On 7/14. I was placed in isolation. Where in 7/16. I reported the incident to captain Norris Morris who claim not to be aware of the situation. I then reported the incident to warden lee in 7/18.
As of this date. No one has responded and no actions have been taken against lt gaithers for the abuse of power he used that night!! I could have been seriously injured with more than a few cuts and bruises. But more so. I could have been BLINDED and no one gives a damn!!


Now none of this stuff is unusual in the world, or in world history. When I googled for "prison brutality", Uzbekistan came up right along with the US on the first page.
See, the thing is that what happened in Abu Ghraib and Guantanmo is not surprising. It is the export of civilian practices in prisons into the military. Maybe it goes slightly further, but it doesn't go that much further. The US attitude towards towards convicts (and indeed, even towards people accused but not actually convicted) is that they deserve whatever they get.
My response to this is to say "fine. If you think they deserve to be raped and tortured, put it back on the books. Have the judges say, you John Smith, are hereby found guilty of snorting some cocaine. You are sentenced to 5 years in prison, and you shall be raped no less than five times. Electricity shall be applied to your testicles on no less than three occasions. You will be strapped to a metal restraint for no less than 3 days, at least 10 times and forced to defecate upon yourself for the duration. You will also spend at least 3 months in solitary. Be greatful that we are not making you pay your debt to society by releasing the hounds on you, sir, that we will spare you, since you were involved in no violence".
But in many jurisdictions of the US, the judge might as well be, because many of those things will happen to prisoners. You send a certain type of man or woman (pretty, not tough or connected) to a maximum security prison and the odds of them being raped are so close to 100% that there is no effective difference.
And it's this casual contempt, not for the rights of other humans, but for their essential humanity; this inability to put ourselves in anothers shoes, to treat even the worst (and many are far from the worst) among us with dignity, respect and reasonable kindness and forebearance which the US has displayed to the world. The world, rightly, is disgusted and the effect has been a real loss of American prestige. These things aren't just niceties; aren't just frills - a decent respect for humanity buys you a lot of leverage; buys you respect, helps you get your way. Those who preach about democracy, human rights and freedom are expected to live up to those words.
The "tough man macho" bullshit has got to stop. It doesn't mean being strong, it means being a bully. The US blows into countries it thinks it can beat, but tiptoes around places like North Korea who could bloody its nose. Prison guards beat prisoners who have no way of fighting back, who are nobodies and helpless, then cover it up. People make jokes about rape all the time (an indication that they fear it), but no one does a thing about it. Meanwhile the US locks up more people per capita than any other nation in the world - beating out totalitarian states like China.
The entire process has been largely privatized, with prisoners held to make a profit. Entire rural communities have as their primary industry a local prison. To put it crudely, white rural men get paid to lock up urban black men. The industry is so powerful that no one wants to take it on - not just because the corporations have influence, but because the prison guard unions will savage any politician who suggests reform of either the prisons themselves, or the insane system of laws which has lead to such a massive prison population.
As with so much in the US, everyone with any sense (which means a lot less people than one would hope) knows this is FUBAR, but because people are making so much money for doing work that shouldn't even be needed (like the 20% to 30% administrative overheads in health insurnace companies) no one deals with it.
And so people suffer; people are raped; people die - all because some greedy people want to make money off the public teat doing what they enjoy - abusing blacks and poor whites who get caught up in the system.
One of the few good things that can be said about the oncoming collaps of the US economy is that it's going to force people to look really closely at things like this and decide if they're really willing to pay billions and billions for a system like this.
@by Michelle Schmude


Mississippi has long been a state that has went unnoticed. The DR inmates are in desperate need of help. They have a potential of four more executions this year alone. Brutality runs ramped anoungest officers, conditions are so poor that many cells flood each time it rains, and there are no cameras.
Each time there is a execution, it is quickly swept under the rug. I have no doubt several innocent men have been executed there. That is why former warden Cabana resigned, believing he took part in the execution of a innocent man.
This is a state that still believe its fighting the Civil War. Governor Barbour wanted to put the confederate flag on there license plates. He also publicly said, he felt segregation wasn't that bad!
There was a lawsuit that was filed on behalf of fifteen DR inmates http://www.google.com/m/url?client=ms-android-verizon&ei=tQU2TuiEAdLnlwesvN4D&gl=us&hl=en&q=http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/index.php/print_view/37927&source=android-launcher-widget&ved=0CBwQFjAB&usg=AFQjCNEFk7tpFhHrza32eHXxdeBzXKJurw
Where by lawyers own admittance these men received inadequate representation. Currently, three of the DR inmates named in this lawsuit have been executed. The USSC has refused to grant stays based on the Knox Lawsuit. Furthermore, Mississippi is known for poor storage of evidence, and often times claiming, it is LOST! In the case of Fredrick Bell, the state lost the evidence witch in fact could clear his name. Freddie received a stay in December 2010, but is by no means out of danger of execution.
Now, as the state prepares to take more lives, I received a letter from Mathew Puckett pleading for me to help save his life. Anyone willing to assist, or come up with statagies, please in box me. Matt needs everyones help!!!

@by Michelle Schmude

Mississippi State Penitentiary

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
—  Unincorporated community  —
Mississippi State Penitentiary
Entrance to the Mississippi State Penitentiary
Parchman is located in Mississippi
Location within the state of Mississippi
Coordinates: 33°55′04″N 90°29′47″W / 33.91778°N 90.49639°W / 33.91778; -90.49639Coordinates: 33°55′04″N 90°29′47″W / 33.91778°N 90.49639°W / 33.91778; -90.49639
Country United States
State Mississippi
County Sunflower
Elevation 144 ft (44 m)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 38738
Area code(s) 662
FIPS code
GNIS feature ID 675442[1]
Website mdoc.state.ms.us
Mississippi State Penitentiary (MSP), also known as Parchman Farm, is the oldest prison and the only maximum security prison for men in the state of Mississippi, USA.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections facility is located on about 18,000 acres (7,300 ha) in unincorporated Sunflower County,[2][3] and was established in 1901.
It has beds for 4,840 inmates. Inmates work on the prison farm and in manufacturing workshops. It holds male offenders classified at all custody levels — A and B custody (minimum and medium security) and C and D custody (maximum security). It also houses the male death row — all male offenders sentenced to death in Mississippi are held in MSP's Unit 29. Parchman is not designated to house female offenders - Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, also the location of the female death row, is the only state prison in Mississippi designated as a place for female prisoners.[2]
References. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (July 2010)
The original warden's residence at MSP
After December 31, 1894, prisoners sentenced by the State of Mississippi could no longer be hired or leased by third parties. After the convict leasing system ended, the State of Mississippi began to acquire property to build its own correctional facilities.[4] In 1900 the Mississippi State Legislature appropriated US$80,000 for the purchase of the Parchman Plantation, a 3,789-acre (1,533 ha) property in Sunflower County.[5] What is now the prison property was located at a railroad spur called "Gordon Station."[6]
The Government of Mississippi purchased land in Sunflower County with the intent of establishing a prison there in January 1901.[7] In 1901 four stockades were constructed, and the state moved prisoners to begin clearing land for crop cultivation.[5] The land was undeveloped Mississippi Delta forest.[4] The prison was nicknamed "Parchman" after Warden J. M. "Jim" Parchman. Around the time of MSP's opening, Sunflower County residents objected to having executions performed at MSP because they feared that Sunflower County would be stigmatized as a "death county." Therefore the State of Mississippi originally performed executions of condemned criminals in their counties of conviction.[8]
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History said that MSP "was in many ways reminiscent of a gigantic antebellum plantation and operated on the basis of a plan proposed by Governor John M. Stone in 1896."[7] In the fiscal year 1905, Parchman's first year of operations, the State of Mississippi earned $185,000 (over $4.6 million in 2009 dollars) from Parchman's operations.[9]
Originally Parchman was one of two prisons designated for young, black men, with the other prisons housing other racial and gender groups.[10] In 1908 a tornado struck Camp 1, causing no injuries and $10,000 in damages.[11]
In 1909 the State of Mississippi acquired 2,000 acres (810 ha) adjacent to the MSP territory, resulting in MDOC having 15,789 acres (6,390 ha) of land in the Mississippi Delta.[10] As time passed, the state began to consolidate most penal operations in Parchman, making other camps hold minor support roles, with Parchman being the main prison.[12] In 1916 MDOC bought the O'Keefs Plantation in Quitman County, near Lambert. Originally this plantation was a separate institution, the Lambert Farm.[10] The facility later became Camp B. In 1917 the Parchman property had been fully cleared, and the administration divided the facility into a series of camps, housing black and white prisoners of both genders.[12] By 1917 12 male camps and one female camp were established, and racial segregation was of the institution's highest priorities. The institution became the main hub of activity for Mississippi's prison system.[7]
In 1937 the prison had 1,989 inmates.[13]
The original MSP Camp One
Around the 1950s residents of Sunflower County were still opposed to the concept of housing the execution chamber at MSP. In September 1954, Governor Hugh L. White called for a special session of the Mississippi Legislature to discuss the application of the death penalty.[8] During that year, a gas chamber serving as an execution chamber was installed at MSP. The gas chamber replaced an electric chair which, between 1940 and February 5, 1952, had been moved from county to county to execute condemned prisoners. The first person to die in the gas chamber was Gearald A. Gallego, who was executed on March 3, 1955.[14]

[edit] Parchman Farm and the freedom riders

In the spring of 1961, Freedom Riders (civil rights activists) went to the American South to test the desegregation of public facilities. By the end of June, 163 Freedom Riders had been convicted in Jackson and many were jailed in Parchman.[15] On June 15, 1961 the first set of Freedom Riders were sent from Hinds County Prison to Parchman. The first group sent to the farm were 45 male Freedom Riders, 29 blacks accompanied by 16 whites.[16]
The prison authorities forced the freedom riders to remove their clothing and undergo strip searches. After the strip searches, a man named Deputy Tyson met the freedom riders and began intimidating them.[17] He began by mocking the Freedom Ride, being quoted saying "y’all all a time wanna march someplace. Well y’all gon’ march right now, right t’yo cells. An’ ahm gon’ lead ya. Follow me. Ah’m Martinlutherking."[18] The guards at Parchman Farm were relentless even after all of this mockery.
When taken to the cells and given clothing they were made sure to be kept as uncomfortable as possible. The Freedom Riders were given clothing that did not fit. Along with that, they were not allowed items such as pencils and paper.[19] David Fankhauser, a Freedom Rider at Parchman Farm, was quoted saying, “In our cells, we were given a bible, an aluminum cup and a tooth brush. The cell measured 6 x 8 feet with a toilet and sink on the back wall, and a bunk bed. We were permitted one shower per week, and no mail was allowed. The policy in the maximum security block was to keep lights on 24 hours a day. “.[19] The food was less than desirable as well. Frankhauser said, ": Breakfast every morning was black coffee strongly flavored with chicory, grits, biscuits and blackstrap molasses. Lunch was generally some form of beans or black-eyed peas boiled with pork gristle, served with cornbread. In the evening, it was the same as lunch except it was cold." .[19]
As time wore on the Governor of Mississippi, Ross Barnett, visited the farm a few times. He would give various instructions to the guards to, "break their spirit, not their bones".[20] The Governor took precautionary actions with the Freedom Riders. He made sure they were away from all other inmates and were kept in maximum security cells. With that order given, the Freedom Riders were stuck in the cell for the most part with not a lot to do. Singing was reintroduced, a tactic used in previous jailing situations.[citation needed]
The prisoners sang various songs to irritate Tyson and the other guards. Tyson attempted many types of tactics to stop the singing. They took their mattresses and bug screens to attempt to get the prisoners to stop singing. The guards then took the extreme action of flooding the cells and blowing large fans into the cells creating a draft and freezing temperatures for the Freedom Riders. After they realized these harsh methods were not working they attempted to barter with the Freedom Riders. The warden then apologized to the riders, emotionally wrecked he returned all the belongings that had been taken. The mattresses and screens were returned in an attempt for less singing. This was already a victory for the Freedom Riders.[19]
As the 45 Riders were fighting the battle in the cells many others were coming down to join the men. Winnoh Myers was a woman accompanied by others who took the ride down south and eventually got jailed. She was witness to the treatment first hand. The only main difference was she was a woman being treated just as the men were. She was given bad living quarters and even worse clothing and meals.[21] Most of the Freedom Riders were bailed out after a little over a month. She was the last Freedom Rider left in Parchman Farm. She got visits just due to the fact that she was a Freedom Rider.[22] The Freedom Riders gained credibility in the Civil Rights Movement after undergoing the conditions in Parchman.[23]

 Post Freedom Ride

In 1970 the civil rights lawyer Roy Haber began taking statements from inmates, which eventually ran to fifty pages detailing murders, rapes, beatings and other abuses suffered by the inmates in Parchman from 1969 to 1971. Four Parchman inmates brought a suit against the prison superintendent in federal district court in 1972, alleging their civil rights under the United States Constitution were being violated by the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment.[24] In the case, Gates v. Collier, federal judge William C. Keady found that Parchman Farm violated the Constitution and was an affront to 'modern standards of decency'. Among other reforms, the accommodation was made fit for human habitation and the trusty system (where lifers were armed with rifles and set to guard other inmates) was abolished.[25][26] The state was required to integrate the prison facilities, hire African-American staff members, and construct new prison facilities.[9] In the 1970s Governor of Mississippi William L. Waller organized a blue-ribbon committee to study MSP. The committee decided that the state should abandon MSP's profit farming system and hire a professional penologist to head the prison.[27]
The 1987 BBC Television landmark documentary Fourteen Days in May, which followed the last two weeks of the life of Edward Earl Johnson up until just a few minutes before his execution in the prison's gas chamber, was filmed here.
On July 1, 1984 the Legislature of Mississippi amended §§ 99-19-51 of the Mississippi Code; the new amendment stated that prisoners who committed capital crimes after July 1, 1984 would be executed by lethal injection.[14]
In the mid-1980s several state law enforcement officials and postal inspectors went to Parchman to end a widespread scam involving forged money orders.[28]
In 1985 area farmers referred to the facility as being the "Parchman Penal Farm," even though the facility was officially named the "Mississippi State Penitentiary."[29] During that year MSP had over 4,000 prisoners, including 200 women in a few of the camps.[29] When the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility (CMCF) opened in January 1986, all women who were incarcerated at MSP were moved to CMCF.[30]
In 1997 several prison guards were arrested, accused of illegally interfering with prisoner mail.[31] On March 18, 1998 the legislature made another amendment, removing the gas chamber as a method of execution.[14][8] The lethal injection table was first used in 2002.
On Monday November 17, 2003, Larry Hentz escaped from Unit 24B of MSP;[32] he was believed to have been traveling with his wife.[33] The escapee and his wife were captured in San Diego, California on December 11, 2003.[34] Hentz is located in Unit 29;[35] previously he was in Unit 32.[36]
In 2005 Tim Climer, the executive director of the Sunflower County Economic Development District, stated that he wanted to develop MSP into a tourist attraction by establishing an interpretive center.[37]
In 2010, the Mississippi State Penitentiary became the first correctional facility in the United States to install a system to prevent contraband cell phone usage by inmates through the installation of a managed access system to prevent the authentication and operation of contraband wireless devices within the prison grounds. Other prisoners, visitors and guards smuggle telephones as whole units or in pieces for later re-assembly and use. MSP worked with vendors Global Tel*Link Corporation, which already provides permitted inmate landline phone service to the prison, and Tecore Networks, the company which designed and developed the Intelligent Network Access Controller or iNAC managed access technology, to install the system with no incurred cost to the prison or the state of Mississippi. The managed access system renders unauthorized devices useless within the prison, without the need to locate or confiscate the devices, but at the same time permits authorized devices to operate unimpeded. The technology does not encounter the legal impediments facing competing cell detection and cell jamming technologies, and has the added benefit of being able to ensure that all emergency 911 calls are permitted to complete, regardless of source. Christopher Epps, Commissioner of MDOC, publicly unveiled the system on September 8, 2010, and identified managed access as a model for other prisons to follow around the country to address the issue of contraband cell phones.[38][39] Due to the installation of the system, between August 6, 2010 and September 9, 2010, over 216,320 texts and calls were blocked.

 Location and composition

Aerial view of Mississippi State Penitentiary, February 21, 1992 - United States Geological Survey
Mississippi State Penitentiary, which occupies 18,000 acres (7,300 ha) of land, has 53 buildings with a total of 922,966 square feet (85,746.3 m2) of space. As of 2010 the institution can house 4,536 inmates. 1,109 people, as of 2010, work at MSP. Most of MDOC's agricultural enterprise farming activity occurs at MSP. Mississippi Prison Industries has a work program at MSP, with about 190 inmates participating.[40] The road from the front entrance to the back entrance stretches 5.4 miles (8.7 km).[41] Donald Cabana, who served as the superintendent and executioner of MSP, said that "the sheer magnitude of the place was difficult to comprehend on first viewing."[42]
The main gate of MSP is at the intersection of U.S. Route 49W and Mississippi Highway 32, on the west side of 49W
"Parchman" appears as a place on highway maps. The "Parchman" dot represents the MSP main entrance and several MSP buildings, with the prison territory located to the west of the main entrance.[43] The main entrance, a metal gate with "Mississippi State Penitentiary" in large letters,[43] is located at the intersection of U.S. Route 49W and Mississippi Highway 32,[44] on the west side of 49W.[43] The Mississippi Blues Trail[45] Passersby are not permitted to stop to photograph buildings at the Parchman main entrance.[46] The rear entrance is about 10 miles (16 km) east of Shelby, at MS 32.[29] A private portion of Highway 32 extends from the main entrance of MSP to the rear entrance of MSP.[47] U.S. 49W is a major highway used to travel to MSP.[15] The City of Drew is 8 miles (13 km) south of MSP,[41] and Ruleville is about 15 miles (24 km) from MSP.[48] Parchman is south of Tutwiler,[49] about 90 miles (140 km) south of Memphis, Tennessee,[6] and about 120 miles (190 km) north of Jackson.[50] marker is located at the Parchman main entrance.
Throughout MSP's history, it was referred to as "the prison without walls" due to the dispersed camps within its property.[5] Hugh Ferguson, the director of public affairs of MSP, said that the prison is not like Alcatraz, because it is not centralized in one or several main buildings. Instead MSP consists of several prison camps spread out over a large area, called "units." Each unit serves a specific segment of the prison population, and each unit is surrounded by walls with barbed tape.[51] The perimeter of the overall Parchman property has no fencing. The prison property, located on flat farmland of the Mississippi Delta, has almost no trees. Ferguson said that a potential escapee would have no place to hide. Richard Rubin, author of Confederacy of Silence: A True Tale of the New Old South, said that MSP's environment is so inhospitable for escape that prisoners working in the fields are not chained to one another, and one overseer supervises each gang.[52] A potential escapee could wander for days without leaving the MSP property.[53] As of 1971 guards patrol MSP on horseback instead of on foot.[42] The rear entrance is protected by a steel barricade and a guard tower.[29] In 1985 Robert Cross of the Chicago Tribune said "The physical surroundings--cotton and bean fields, the 21 scattered camps, the barbed wire enclosures--suggest that nothing much has changed since the days, early in this century, when outsiders could visit Parchman State Penal Farm only on the fifth Sunday of those rare months containing more than four."[29]
MSP has two main areas, Area I and Area II. Area I includes Unit 29 and the Front Vocational School. Area II includes Units 25-26, Units 30-32, and Unit 42. Seven units house prisoners.[2] As of the 1970s and 1980s the prison grounds had small red houses that were used for conjugal visits.[29][54] As of 2010 the prison still offers conjugal visits.[55]

 Inmate housing units

Six units currently house prisoners.[56] Units which currently function as inmate housing include:[2][57]
  • Unit 25
    • In the mid-2000s Unit 25 had the Pre-Release/Job Assistance Alcohol and Drug Therapeutic Community After Care Program, which had 48 beds. The program was for offenders who are about to be released from prison.[58]
  • Unit 26
    • Units 26, 27, and 28, which in total have a capacity of 388 people, together had a price tag of $3,450,000.[30]
  • Unit 29
    Unit 29 (1992)
    • Unit 29, a 16-building medium security complex, opened in 1980 and designed by Dale and Associates.[59] Unit 29 houses all male death row inmates in MDOC.[2]
    • The building, which was under construction in the 1970s and originally had a capacity of 1,456, had a construction cost of $22,045,000.[30] In 2000 a prisoner riot occurred at Unit 29, leading to some injuries.[60] Renovations occurred in 1998, including the conversion of dormitory units into cell units.[59] Unit 29 is the primary farming support unit of MSP. It has 1,561 beds,[2][40] In the mid-1990s Unit 29 was the main maximum security camp for the population. Most inmates started their stays in Unit 29, and almost every prisoner went through the unit.[51] Renovations of Unit 29 in the financial year of 2000 added about 240 beds.[61] By 2001 MDOC built a kitchen and had converted half of Unit 29's open bay dormitories to individual cells; together the changed had a price tag of $21,760,284 of U.S. Department of Justice grant money.[62] Unit 29-A houses the A&D Treatment Program for Special Needs program, which is for prisoners with HIV/AIDS who are more than 6 months and within 30 months of their release dates.[63] which house minimum, medium, and close custody inmates. The unit is the prison's largest in terms of prisoner capacity.
  • Unit 30
    • Unit 30 is the education and drug treatment facility.[64] It was designed by Dale and Associates.[65] Unit 30, a part of the Alcohol and Drug Therapeutic Community Treatment Centers (ADTC-TC), has 480 beds. Unit 30 has two housing buildings, A and B, and each building has two housing zones, A and B. Each zone houses 108 prisoners.[63] Previously each zone housed 120 prisoners.[58]
  • Unit 31
    • Unit 31 serves as the unit for inmates with severe disabilities.[66] The unit includes a 12 week alcohol and drug program based on principles of Alcoholics Anonymous.[63]
  • Unit 42
    • Unit 42, the prison hospital, has 54 beds.[2] In terms of capacity it is the smallest residential unit.[40] The prison hospital serves female inmates throughout the MDOC system.[67] In December 2009 MDOC opened the Compassionate and Palliative Care Unit, a hospice for dying prisoners, in the hospital.[68]
MDOC classifies 13 units as "closed housing units."[56] All of the units in the prison which formerly housed prisoners and no longer function as inmate housing include:[57]
  • Unit 4
  • Unit 10
    • Units 10, 12, and 20, which together housed 300 people, together had a total cost of $1,000,000.[30]
  • Unit 12
    • Unit 12 had the pre-release operations.[69]
  • Unit 15, Building B
  • Unit 16
    • The unit, with a capacity of 68 people, was built in the 1970s for $3,000,000.[30]
  • Unit 17
    • Unit 17 houses the execution chamber for condemned inmates.[70] A condemned prisoner is transferred to a holding cell next to the death chamber 48 hours before the scheduled time of his or her execution.[40] Cell NO. 14 is used to house inmates prior to execution. The execution chamber is a 10-foot (3.0 m) by 15-foot (4.6 m) room.[71]
    • Unit 17's prisoner housing was closed on October 25, 2004.[72] At one time the 56-bed Unit 17 housed the prison's death row.[73]
  • K-9
  • Unit 20
  • Fire House
  • Unit 22
    • Units 22 and 23 and the prison hospital, which in total have a capacity of 324 people, together had a price tag of $1,850,000.[30]
  • Unit 23
  • Unit 24
    • The unit, with a capacity of 192 people, was built in the 1970s for $2,250,000.[30] Unit 24E and Unit 25 in total had a capacity of 352 people, and they had a total cost of $1,750,000.[30] The total construction cost of all of Unit 24, constructed in 1975, is $3.6 million. The unit had 192 single cell medium security beds. The facility has two stories and three housing zones, each having 64 beds. Zones A and B housed special needs prisoners who were receiving mental health care. Zone C had general population A and B security level prisoners.[32]
  • Unit 27
    • In the 1990s Unit 27 was the protective custody facility. Richard Rubin, author of Confederacy of Silence: A True Tale of the New Old South, noticed that most of the prisoners in Unit 27 were White, while overall in MSP most prisoners were Black.[51]
  • Unit 28
    • In the mid-2000s Unit 28 was the facility for the A&D Treatment Program for Special Needs program, which is for prisoners with HIV/AIDS who are more than 7 months and within 30 months of their release dates. The program began as a therapeutic community in April 2002; previously the program was a 12 week program.[58] Historically Unit 28 was the housing where HIV positive offenders were segregated into.[74] In 2010 the MDOC Commissioner, Christopher B. "Chris" Epps, said that MDOC, beginning in May, would no longer segregate HIV offenders.[75] By August 2010 Unit 28, which had 192 beds, closed.[76]
  • Unit 32
    • Unit 32, a 34.8-acre (14.1 ha) prison unit,[77] was the designated unit of housing for maximum security and death row convicts.,[78] and Unit 32 served as MSP's lockdown unit.[51] Unit 32, designed by Dale and Associates,[65] has "Supermax" cells.[79]
    • The U32 housing facility has five two story housing facilities, a recreation building, and external structures such as gun towers. Each housing building has 200 cells and 82 square feet (7.6 m2) of living space. Each housing building was made of precast concrete, and 6,700 cubic yards of concrete and 500,000 pounds (230,000 kg) of reinforcing steel were used to build each housing building.[77] Building A (Alpha Building) served as the maximum security area.[80][81] Building B (Bravo Building) also housed closed custody prisoners.[81] Building C (Charlie Building) served as death row.[82][83] Unit 32 was intended to reduce maintenance necessities by using durable structure and equipment and to allow prison administrators to establish a high level of control over U32's residents. The 18.8-acre (7.6 ha) Unit 32 Support Facility houses administrative offices, a canteen, medical services, a library, and a visitation area.[77]
    • The $41 million unit opened in August 1990, increasing MSP's maximum security bed space by over 15 percent; during that year Mississippi officials said that the prison needed more maximum security space after Unit 32's opening.[78] Prior to Unit 32's opening, MSP had 56 "lockdown" cells for difficult prisoners.[9] By 2003 the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of six inmates, alleging poor conditions in Unit 32's death row.[84] In 2007 three inmates in Unit 32 were murdered by other inmates in a several month span.[85] During that year a guard at Unit 32 said that under-staffing contributed to the security lapses.[86] In 2010 MDOC and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reached an agreement to close Unit 32 and transfer prisoners to other areas. Mentally ill prisoners in the unit will be transferred to the East Mississippi Correctional Facility near Meridian, Mississippi.[87]