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Lawmakers Dicuss Parchman’s Fate

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JACKSON, Miss.–The bill that would phase out operations at the state prison at Parchman passed out of a Senate committee Friday, despite some objections.
“I know that this bill is not the fix-all, but we have to start somewhere,” said state Sen. Juan Barnett, chair of the Corrections Committee and author of the bill. Barnett said he hopes to get ahead of the Dept. of Justice, which issued a report last week about three other Mississippi prisons, saying there is not enough staff to adequately supervise inmates and that gangs are running those prisons.
The DOJ previously issued a report about conditions at Parchman, which have improved since riots in 2019 and 2020.
“I don’t know that the best thing for us to do is for us to move them out of one facility that they’ve torn up into another facility for them to tear up if we don’t have the staff and we’re not willing to spend the money to get the staff,” said Sen. Angela Hill.
Barnett’s plan, built after reviewing several reports on the state prison and prison system, is to secure the Tallahatchie Correctional Facility¬†and convert it to a state prison, moving the majority of prisoners and staff there. That facility is in Tutwiler, just north of Parchman.
“Moving these inmates seven miles up the road is not gonna solve this problem,” said Hill.
Barnett countered that after the last riots at Parchman about a thousand inmates were moved there with few problems.
“We’re spending too much of our taxpayer money on things that we should have fixed over the years,” he said.
The bill must move through other committees and finally onto the Senate floor for a vote before it goes to the House. If it passes there, it would move on to the governor to become law.