Willie Manning’s prison, Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, is inspected annually; failures in safety and health obligations are then uncovered. Several times previously we have noted the problems at the prison.* This year is no different: an inspection in June exposed very many environmental sanitation and health deficiencies across the prison e.g.
flooding and leaks,
lack of lights, power and water,
broken toilets and sinks
missing pillows and mattresses
black mold and mildew
inoperable showers and ice machines
Unit 29, where Willie is incarcerated, has the most violations. This unit has 1500 beds, of which 41 are allocated to death row inmates.
Cliff Johnson, director of the MacArthur Justice Center, states that “long-term exposure to unhealthy and dangerous conditions”, together with staff shortages, are implicated in sickness and deaths among prisoners.
Attorney Ron Welch, who has represented state prisoners against Mississippi, notes that skimping on maintenance is a false economy for taxpayers: unmaintained buildings do not last as long as well-maintained ones.
However, instead of investing more for the sake of safety, health and sound economics, Mississippi lawmakers have recently approved a reduction in Parchman’s budget for next year (2.6% less than the prison was allocated this year).
Far from improving, it seems likely that conditions at Parchman will continue to deteriorate. We wish Willie the strength to survive.