/Prison brass warned of dangerous conditions a year ago, but lawmakers did not act

Prison brass warned of dangerous conditions a year ago, but lawmakers did not act

Hall said, “I’m almost at my capacity in my facilities. Hall stated that it was not a good situation for Mississippi in January 2019. She spoke to lawmakers at a Jan. 16, 2019, House appropriations subcommittee hearing about her department. Hall said, “We expect that our correctional personnel and all those working for corrections will be able deliver services for 19,197 persons incarcerated… They’re supposed deliver (services). with honor, integrity and courage. We haven’t taken care of them. They are expected to behave like eagles when dealing with people society says they have given up on. The plea was just one of many that corrections officers and criminal justice advocates have made over several years. These pleas were ignored almost every time. Mississippi’s correctional institutions were in crisis at the beginning of the new year. At least five prisoner have been killed by what the state calls disturbances at three facilities. To combat violence, more than 100 officers were sent by local sheriffs to Mississippi State Penitentiary (Sunflower County). As graphic videos showing the conditions in Parchman prison spread social media, family members of Parchman inmates have not heard from them in many days. To reduce fatalities and injuries, the department of corrections ordered a nationwide lockdown at all its prisons. Manisa Ragsdale (a lieutenant in the corrections department) told the committee that the working conditions of employees were dangerous during the January 2019 hearing. Ragsdale stated that low staffing is one of her main concerns. Ragsdale stated, “If a major incident were to occur, there would not be anyone there to respond.” Ragsdale added: “People have to come in early so they have enough staff to run the shift for one hour.” It is dangerous. You don’t know who to call if you need help. “If I’m in a serious crisis, who will come and see me?” Prison officials claim that the facility are now under control, but the department of corrections has been reticent. Photos and videos posted on social media by prisoners have suggested that staff were slow to respond to incidents such as fires or prisoner-on-prisoner violence. Hall, the commissioner asked for $22.3 million from lawmakers to fix Unit 29 at Parchman, Mississippi State Penitentiary’s maximum security unit. This unit is where at least three people were killed and many more were injured in this month’s Mississippi State Penitentiary fires. Governor. Phil Bryant requested $6 million to fund the first phase of this building project. Parchman received a budget totaling $36 million from the legislature this spring. This is 2.6 percent less than it received in the previous year and $22.8 million less than Hall requested. The Legislature didn’t grant the request of the prison department for money to fix Unit 29. Grace Fisher, MDOC communications director, stated in August 2019 that the department needs $22.3 million just to renovate Unit 29. She didn’t have any figures for the total prison renovation. Mississippi Today published the same month the results of a state inspection at the prison. It found that Unit 29 had the highest number of health violations. The prison also had over 400 cells with flooding and lack of water. A study shows that lawmakers have cut the budget of the department three times in the last eight years. The department was granted funding increases in years past, but the increase was marginal and significantly less than the department requested. In fiscal years 2016, 2012, and 2017, corrections budgets were reduced compared to prior years. In the past two years, the department has received increases of 2% and 1%, respectively. However, these increases were approximately $40 million lower than what the department requested each year. Some state employees, including corrections officers, received 3 percent increases in 2019, according to lawmakers. The full 3 percent increase was granted to approximately 900 officers whose salaries were $24,903 per annum for trainees and $32,205 per year for sergeants. Hall asked legislators to give the corrections officer pay raise, but the increase did not make a difference. Hall stated in 2018 that she shudders to think about what it would be like to manage a household on the salaries officers receive. Hall stated that she was losing workers to Mississippi factories like Continental Tire and Nissan in January 2019 because they offer better wages and working conditions. Hall stated, “We are losing our workforce.” Hall stated, “We’re losing our workforce.” Legislative reform regarding the length of state prison sentences is one solution that they have suggested to lawmakers. “Mississippi politicians speak about how tough it is to fight crime, but we have to question whether they are being intelligent,” Cliff Johnson, director of MacArthur Justice Center at University of Mississippi School of Law said in July 2019. “You cannot put people in prison for long periods of time for every crime. Then you act shocked when they get to 20,000.” Johnson stated that Mississippi’s only option to afford prisons that keep people safe was to decrease the number of prisoners and impose shorter sentences for most crimes. It is possible to do this thoughtfully and safely. However, legislators and other state leaders have spoken out about their support for the corrections department. After days of violence in the state’s prison system, Gov. Bryant stressed Mississippi’s need for “investment in its prison system” and the men and woman who work there. However, Bryant made several mid-year and annual agency cuts to balance the state budget during his eight years of office. Bryant made all the mid-year cuts to the corrections department. Bryant did not exempt the Mississippi Highway Patrol from the cuts once because of safety concerns. Tate Reeves will be inaugurated Jan. 14. He tweeted that he had been briefed by his department about the violence and was “grateful for those working to restore order to safety.” The department of corrections doesn’t have a permanent leader as the 2020 legislative session is about to begin. Hall made it clear in December that she would be leaving her position in January to take up a position in the private sector. Reeves is yet to announce his replacement. In a January 2019 meeting, Rep. Angela Cockerham (I-Magnolia) stated that they have always stood up for you and fought for corrections. Michelle Liu contributed to this article. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today.