South MS parents whose son was burned in jail say facility is run by inmates

South MS parents whose son was burned in jail say facility is run by inmates
Tony Howard Jr. is serving time in the Leakesville jail. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Tony Howard Jr. is serving time in the Leakesville jail. (Photo source: WLOX News)

LEAKESVILLE, MS (WLOX) - A South Mississippi couple is angry after they say another inmate attempted to kill their son at the South MS Correctional Institution in Leakesville. It's the same jail where three inmates died and convicted murderer Pretty Boy Floyd escaped from just this month.

The Howards spoke to WLOX News Now on Friday calling the jail a poorly run facility. They say something needs to be done before more lives are lost.

Linda and Tony Howard, Sr. looked at a letter from their son Tony Howard, Jr., an inmate who is serving time at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville for manslaughter. On Sunday, August 5, the Howard's say they heard a rumor that their son was burned on Friday, August 3rd.

That rumor turned out to be true.

"They had heard that somebody had gotten burned real bad at the prison in Leakesville, and they said it was our son Tony Howard," said Linda.

But when she tried to confirm that information she says no one, not even the warden of the prison, would call her back or confirm what happened. It wasn't until Tuesday, four days after she says her son was burned, that an MDOC chaplain called her to tell her to come see her son.

"They was wanting to set us up an appointment because they was losing Tony," she said.

But not even an hour later, they say the chaplain called back to cancel the meeting because Tony made a response.

On Thursday, August 9 an MDOC investigator contacted Linda confirming that another inmate was able to get access to gas and chemicals while working in the yard and delivering mail.

"He was allowed too much freedom. I would not burn a dog. Nobody deserves that," she said.

The investigator said the inmate used the chemicals and made a homemade lighter to burn Tony. Worried about their son's current health condition the Howards feel left in the dark.

They want to know how bad he was burned as well as how another inmate was able to gain access to Tony's maximum-security jail cell, and where the prison guards were when the incident occurred.

"As far as I'm concerned, the inmates are running the jail, not the staff. I just think they need to shut it down because it's not being ran right. If you got so many death counts in one month's time and another one like to happen for this month, what else is left to say? I would like to see my son. We would like to see our son," Howard explained.

Howard says MDOC told her their policy is to only allow visitation and details if they believe the inmate has a chance of dying or dies.

MDOC released the following statement in response to the incident involving Howard:

The Mississippi Department of Corrections is investigating an encounter between inmates Tony Howard (MDOC No. 104000) and Albert Wilson (MDOC No. 43954) on Aug. 3 at South Mississippi Correctional Institution (SMCI) in Leakesville.  Because this is an ongoing investigation with information subject to change, the department's practice is to not release details. Upon completion of the investigation, if the department believes charges are merited, the case will be referred to a prosecutor's office.

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