Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Additional Details Emerge From Within Mississippi's Wilkinson County Correction Facility

by Cyrus Webb

Since my recent reporting on the details I was given concerning the recent riot at the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility in Mississippi that resulted in one inmate's death, others are now coming forward with their own accounts of that incident and others that have taken place there as well.

On Sun, Apr 21, 2013 at  09:14 AM I received this email from a woman who said her son was also at Wilkinson County Correctional Facility:

"I have a son at WCCF that was assaulted in Dec of 2011 by three guards while his hands were handcuffed behind his back. (Yes we have witnesses, and a law suit).
"Can you give me any more information besides what was in your article?  Are the names released on who was killed and injured?
"I live in terror on what that prison will do next. There needs to be a full blown investigation into that prison."

I wrote her back, telling her that I had no details on the names of those involved in the weekend incident. She responded back with this:

"I called the prison and they refused to tell me if my son was injured or dead.  I called my lawyer and so far they have not give him any information.

"If my son is alright, my heart goes out the the mothers who sons were injured or killed. They will be going through hell. That prison has a very bad track record of what goes on with the prisoners.

"My lawyer does not want me talking with the media about my son's case, but someone here in MS needs to do an in-depth investigation into that private prison in Woodville. There was one small blurb on a Baton Rouge news site wondering why the officers who assault prisons are still employed there.

"Many prisoners are assaulted, physically, psychologically, emotionally,sexually by the guards, and they are getting away with it. The prisoners are not saints.  They are there for a reason, and the guards are not properly trained to deal with them, so what happens when you have low educated people, who don't get paid well, in a situation where they are scared, but have the power?

"I pray that you have what it takes to look into this."

An Inmate Living In Fear

Another woman who wished not to be identified here contacted me on Sunday evening about their friend who was in the same facility. The inmate was sharing details about the riot that took place on Saturday morning and other conditions he had faced. Here is the correspondence.

"On a pod where only 8 2-man cells are allowed out at a time, 25 gang members crowded 3 men with knives and broom handles while ONE officer held the crowd off. The inmates had been let out by the tower officer to cause a disturbance. That's whose life is taken at this prison. The officers will open the doors to prisoners cells for other inmates to enter to do harm. The members of the gang calling themselves "Gangsta's" have large numbers and usually the weaker of the groups till allowed to build up their numbers by officials at the Wilkinson Co Facility. THE LEADERS of the gangs are catered to by all staff members. Allowed to run the hallways and create havoc. At the present time an inmate was stabbed to death and the staff was aware of the incident on F pod and allowed the other inmates to come out at breakfast. Normal operations that brought about the death of an inmate. My life is in danger daily. We are discriminated completely by the staff and our safety is of even less importance."

Through a series of messages over the past couple of days, the woman relayed more details about the conditions inside the prison including a picture of knives (contraband).

Another message from the inmate went this way: "For a year and 4 months I've seen prisoners bust windows out and introduce weapons into the prison. Had people break into the prison and bring contraband to the window and drop it off. Free world weapons.

"The Gangstas have total control over this prison and the staff here..

"April 19,2013 on F pod where the inmates are given 2 hours out of their cells for day room calls and showers 8 cells at a time. 2 men per cell total of 16 max inmates out at once, there were 30 Gangstas out on the floor and cornered 3 Vicelords under a stairwell.

"The 3 Vicelords were suppose to be out. The tower officer let out the Gangstas with the one lone floor officer on the pod. He stood in front of the Vicelords and put them in a cell locking them in. And he left the pod. At approximately 11 pm the shift commander (name removed) came on the pod to put the inmates back in their cells after 2 hours on the floor. The officer that had locked the Vicelords in cell just carried on like normal operations.

"Daily at this prison the offenders lives are at stake because they make canteen. The Gangstas will make the officers open the cell doors while inmates sleep and rob them.

"I am inside the prison. Rite now the state investigators are pulling out guys on this pod that were out Friday nite. The cells that were suppose to be out were from 109 to 116, they getting cells from upstairs and down. And its only for show."

On Tuesday afternoon (April 23, 2013) I began to receive more information from the inmate who witnessed the build-up to the riot that occurred last weekend:

"The gang leaders have made it clear that if anyone leaves their cell to talk to investigators they will be killed. The officers came on the pod last nite and tried to force 2 inmates out of their cells to talk to investigators knowing that their lives would be ended if they did. When the two inmates refused to for their safety the officers emptied at least 4 canisters of pepper spray on these 2 inmates that were in their cell. (They were) no threat at all to anyone. All this is done after midnite and undercover. It was video recorded by staff. The inmates were not even taken to medical for treatment. We have all been kept up the cell lights on as a form of punishment for not wanting to risk our lives talking to investigators. I've had no sleep since Sat.

"I was allowed to shower for the 1st time since Thursday today (Tues. April 23,2013). The officials at this prison created the whole of this problem. The inmate that got killed lost his life because of a pair of hair clippers that the Gangstas felt belong to them and wouldn't allow the Vicelords to use. And the officials could have prevented this by staffing the pod."

IMPORTANT NOTE: As an outsider who did not personally witness what is being reported I have to say that these are allegations that are being sent to me that I have no way of verifying. What is of interest, however, is that all the individuals who have reached out to me with stories of this facility reference its history of violence and seemingly neglect.

I will update this story as more becomes available.

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