Amid Concerns About Violence and Infrastructure, Mississippi’s Parchman Prison Reports Two More Inmate Deaths

Two inmates were killed at a Mississippi State Penitentiary after an altercation, the state Department of Corrections and county coroner said Tuesday.

Timothy Hudspeth, 35, was found dead in a bed in the unit where he was housed, Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton said. The department said he suffered fatal injuries Monday night in a fight with other inmates.

The second inmate, whose name is being withheld until his family can be notified, died early Tuesday, Burton said.

Both the coroner and the Department of Corrections said the men’s deaths are unrelated to the recent series of killings within the prison system. But their deaths bring to seven the number of inmates who have died this year at the facility, known as Parchman prison, according to CNN’s count.

At least three of the previous deaths were attributed to violence, the DOC said in a tweet.

Monday’s deaths came a day before new leadership was installed at the DOC. In his first day on the job, interim Commissioner Tommy Taylor was quoted on the DOC Twitter feed as saying, “We’ve got to be transparent. We’re going to be fiscally responsible, and we’re going to be compassionate.”

In a statement about the two latest deaths, Taylor said they are working hard to restore and maintain order at Parchman.

“We believe that the motivation behind this latest altercation is limited to this new tragic set of circumstances,” Taylor said. “The environment that makes such violence possible must be addressed quickly, and we are committed to making changes to do so.”

Hudspeth was sentenced in April 2018 to 10 years for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Burton offered her condolences to Hudspeth’s family.

“I urge you to please join me in praying for the victims’ families, the staff of MDOC, the other offenders, and their families,” she said.

Previous Incidents

Former Commissioner Pelicia Hall stepped down amid widespread concerns about Parchman’s violence and infrastructure woes. She announced her resignation late last year and said she’d be taking a job in the private sector.

The deaths also come two days after corrections officers found Gabriel Carmen, 31, hanging in his cell at Parchman, Burton, the county coroner, said in a statement.

Parchman, where roughly 3,600 of Mississippi’s 19,000 inmates are incarcerated, has been the target of intense criticism over its “failing infrastructure” and recent deaths.

Last summer, the state Department of Health released a 154-page report documenting crumbling, unsanitary conditions in which prisoners lacked power and water and it “rains inside.”

Following a series of possibly gang-related clashes in the prison that left at least three prisoners dead, rappers Jay-Z and Yo Gotti sought to assist prisoners in suing the state in federal court.

In August 2018, Hall requested the FBI help investigate the deaths of 15 inmates, including three of them at Parchman, in the span of a month.

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