Governor Tate Reeves details action steps to restore order at Parchman

Updated: Jan. 23, 2020 at 9:00 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -An ongoing investigation continues into the violence and problems in Mississippi's prison system. New steps are now being taken to put an end to those issues.

Governor Tate Reeves said Thursday that he knows the problems aren’t isolated to Parchman. But he says restoring order there has been his top priority since being sworn in.

Conditions beyond the Parchman gates continue to spark protests, rallies and lawsuits. Thursday, Governor Tate Reeves went inside to see what it’s like.

“We went in units that were currently housing prisoners and I was closer to prisoners in unit 29 today than I am to you now,” he said during a press briefing.

He notes he wishes everyone contemplating a crime in the state could do the same and he thinks there would be a lot less crime. But he’s making a commitment that changes will and are taking place.

“Inmates who are known to be dangerous are being housed together without any structure to prevent violent collision," "This has to be addressed. There are problem in the system. We don’t want to hide them. We want to fix them.”

There’s a list a 7 seven action steps. Improving conditions is at the top, including sending maintenance teams in to help.

But he makes this note.

“Some inmates have just torn the place apart.”

They’re also making sure cell signals are blocked. Here’s why.

“These phones have been illegal for years but they’ve been snuck in," Reeves explained. "They’re being used to coordinate gang activity throughout the Mississippi system and even across the country.”

They’ll also be keeping wardens and deputy wardens on 12 hour shifts. That way a senior officer will be on grounds at all times. And the investigator who will be stationed at Parchman has been identified and is on the job now.

“If you talk to anybody working in these facilities, too many can be used by the gangs operating within the prison to extend their power and sneak in contraband. It’s got to stop.”

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