MS Crime Victims Share Emotional Stories With State Prisoners

LEAKSVILLE (WLOX) -- Inmates at the state prison in Leakesville came face to face on Wednesday with victims of violent crime. The victims shared their stories as part of National Crime Victims Week. Their hope is that this will keep others from becoming victims.

Barbara Blackledge says she is victim of domestic violence that was mostly verbal, but at times physical.

"Out of 20 years of marriage, I was beaten three times, until one last time to the point I thought I would die," said Blackledge.

Teresa Ellzey says she endured a childhood of rape and incest.

"When I was growing up, I would try to scrub my skin to wash away the filth, the ugly and the smell," said Ellzey. "But no matter what I'd done, I still felt nasty."

Caroline Hester told 160 state inmates in Greene County how in 2004, her son was murdered by her nephew.

"When my son got murdered, they dismembered my son and put him and his girlfriend in my son's freezer," said Hester.  "I have guilt feelings that maybe I could have stopped it. Maybe I should have seen it. I couldn't."

Afterwards, several inmates thanked the ladies for their courage and mentioned how prisoners' families are also suffering for their crimes.

Melinda Box works with the Victims Services Division of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

"They realize if I make this choice and do something or hurt somebody else, maybe those women will pop up in their mind and they'll stop and they won't do it."

The victims say they spoke out hoping those who hear their stories will make a change in their lives.

Ellzey said when it comes to violent crime, "no matter how young it started or how old you get, you'll live through that all your life. You'll have to carry it with you. "

The commissioner of the Department of Corrections says Mississippi has more than 22,000 inmates serving in state prisons.