Coronavirus and the department of corrections

As the year 2020 started out, the Mississippi Department of Corrections took the heat in the first month.  Inmates were killing and getting killed with gang activity picking up in prisons across the state especially at Parchman. 

But then things took a turn for the state in general. 

With the first case of coronavirus hitting Mississippi on March 11th, we have seen a steady increase in cases since then now reaching over 27,000 positive cases and over 1,000 deaths. 

As of the last update on June 30th, there are 71 positive coronavirus cases in the prisons across the state, with the most being 25 in the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl. There are over 25,000 inmates. 

Now, how is the prison system working to fight the spread? 

Grace Fisher, with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, says they are doing the following: 

  • Screening employees daily when arriving at work 
  • Requiring masks for employees 
  • Conducting extra cleaning and disinfecting 
  • Practicing social distancing 
  • Making hand sanitizer available 
  • Halting visitation, no visitors other than attorneys. 

Fisher also says they are doing as follows directly with the inmates: 

  • Providing masks, gloves, and antibacterial soap to inmates 
  • Isolating any inmate that is tested or showing symptoms of COVID-19 
  • Quarantining any housing unit where a sick or possibly sick person has had direct contact 
  • Sharing and posting COVID-19 related information throughout the facilities 

In a recent press release, the department announced they are limiting office visits that will begin in July for individuals on probation, parole, house arrest, or other forms of community supervision.

RELATED: Limited office visits

As for the deaths that have been reported with state inmates, that still remains unknown.  Since January, over 30 inmates have died, some having underlying conditions, and others were sent off for an autopsy but no updated information was released.