Concerns Grow Surrounding Deaths Of 16 Inmates In Mississippi Prison System

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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- In the month of August, a total of 16 inmates died in the Mississippi prison system.

We’re now in September and the official causes of those deaths still haven’t been made public.

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“Sixteen deaths in almost less than a month, that’s quite usual, it’s abnormal, and it’s something that really needs to be looked at,” said Kabir Karriem, Dist. 41 State Representative.

Karriem said its devastating to hear that so many Mississippi inmates have died in such a short time.

“The deaths of a few of the inmates hit home because they’re from right here in Columbus,” said Karriem. “When the family contacted me about what can be done and what can happen, my first thought was to call the Mississippi Department of Corrections to see what has happened.”

Karriem made that call.

However, when he called, Karriem said he was told to call the communications department, which is something he’s never had to do before in his dealings with MDOC.

“I just want to know what happened,” the state representative expressed. “I just want the truth, and hopefully I just want the families to get the truth, and I hope that whatever the situation is going on that we can correct it so it doesn’t continue to happen. When a person goes and tries to pay their debts to society by doing their time, death should not be the end result of serving their time.”

Of The 16 inmates that have died, five were being housed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, five more were housed at South Mississippi Correctional Institute in Leakesville, another five were housed at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl, and one was being housed at Wilkinson County Correctional facility in Woodville.

“I don’t think that there’s any conspiracy, I don’t think there’s any common thread, it’s just a fact of life that people are going to pass away, and sometimes within a correctional facility, it can be difficult to identify that until it’s a little later,” said Governor Phil Bryant.

Although the official causes of death hasn’t been released, MDOC Commissioner Pelicia Hall said she believes most were due to illnesses or natural causes.

“I think those of us who are in law-enforcement have a sense of when there is natural causes and when there’s not,” Governor Bryant explained. “You usually can tell if there’s trauma to the body for example, or if the blood stains, or indications there’s been a violent attack, and I don’t think she’s seen any of those, and so that’s a preliminary belief that she has.”

With these alarming death totals, the MDOC has now brought in the FBI and the Mississippi Department of Safety to help them investigate.

No word yet on when any of the autopsies will be completed.

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