How squalid does it have to be before it becomes an emergency?

Carly Rheilan – March 2020

Covid-19 is about to hit the Mississippi prison system. In response, MDOC has issued a document “Covid-19 Questions and Answers“. A few additional restrictions for inmates, but basically business as usual.

The Department of Health inspects Mississippi State Penitentiary (Parchman Prison) annually.

What they find and report on year after year are levels of decay, squalor, neglect and disrepair that would shame a third world country. An environment in which humans should not live and in which hygiene is impossible. The last inspection presented below, revealed 115 inoperable sinks in cell blocks. 82 cells with broken toilets. 57 wth dangerous electrics. 94 inmates without mattresses, 199 without pillows. The list goes on, and the photographs that they faithfully append to their reports are worse – mold, decay, filth, vermin.

The shocking thing is that all the reports from all previous years reveal the same thing. Year upon year, the inspectors remark on the same hideous failings. This state of affairs is just business-as-usual.

In the light of the current Covid19 crisis, Kids With 47 Years is calling for immediate use of emergency powers to release all non-violent offenders from Parchman Prison, for the immediate review of all other prisoners to determine which can safely be released, and for the transfer to a habitable location of any who cannot be released .

The full report** including photographs*** is reproduced below, along with summary statistics which we have derived from an analysis of the material in the report.

* Extensive footage of conditions in J Block were circulated during and after the 2020 riots. It would appear that prison authorities have worked more robustly to prevent further pictures being leaked to the public than to address the issues revealed by those pictures. Since that time, one block has been partially closed. Most of Parchman remains fully occupied.

** We have found it impossible to download the most recent report from the government website, although it is supposed to be available. This is why we are reproducing it here in full

*** We have obscured three headshots visible in the original report, to protect the identity of inmates



Summaries of the findings of the 2019 report.

These summaries have been prepared by Kids With 47 Years, based on taking the 34 pages of reported findings attached below. Numbers have a way of looking very clean and dry. Check out the photos that follow, for the what the numbers really mean.


Issues identified in cell areas:

Issues in kitchens

Day areas


Photographs from the report

Kitchens and food preparation
cell windows
Walls, Ceilings, Floors

Text of the Report

This is the end of the document that we have. We assume that the Inspection generated a lot of other documents, possibly more documents like this, possibly recommendations and commentary. If you have copies of such documents that you would like us to publish, please contact us via our contacts page.

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