Life in Mississippi women’s prison ‘not a privilege – just hell’

Dawn Alexander

Summary: An incarcerated woman calls out inhuman conditions at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.

January 2, 2020 will be two years since the women at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility (CMCF) were moved back to the part of the compound known as the “Yard.” The buildings in this section were “condemned” in 2011! We the prisoners are now being told that it is a privilege to be housed in this area of the compound — a privilege to be in housing that’s unfit for habitation, in buildings where:

  • sewage backs up through the floor drains onto the bathroom flooring;
  • water (including drinking fountains) often smells like sewage and has a putrid taste;
  • toilets and sinks stay stopped-up;
  • on the coldest days, we have no hot water;
  • black mold grows on the walls and ceilings.

And, this is just for starters!

Talk about shitty situations — the A-Building has been required to use a “pump” to run the flooding water (and so on) into the septic system whenever it rains. Sewer water backs up into that building’s bathroom so badly that prisoners have to literally wade through shit to go to the toilets or to the showers!

B-Building has had sewage back up into their bathroom several times as well, but not to the point where they’ve needed to use a pump, but on the other hand, B-Building’s water smells like sewage too and tastes putrid about seventy percent of the time. We have little choice except to boil the water in the microwave and drink it. B-Building has sinks and toilets that are always leaking, stopped-up, and of course, the blame is usually placed on us, the prisoners, when anything gets broken.

These two buildings are more than 30 years old, and their septic system is in disrepair and in dire need of replacement. There are ordinarily six toilets per bathroom (when they are all working), that are supposed to service 140 women. That’s a lot of usage. When the plumbing is aging or ancient, it’s going to break down!

B-Building has no hot water on the coldest days, and they always tell us that it’s when the breaker “trips” to the hot water heater that is the problem. Funny how it will never “trip” in the Summer! Oh, but let it be 30 degrees outside, and there it goes, and with no hot water for days until maintenance can come and flip the tripped breaker — just more worn-out equipment needing to be replaced.

The black mold I’m sure grows everywhere in all the buildings. They spray and scrub, but it invariably comes right back. I’ve even seen them paint over it as if that will contain it and solve the problem. We breathe in these mold spores for weeks, months, and countless years. Could that account for the many unexplained sicknesses and respiratory illnesses?

Like most prisons and correctional systems, we have our share of staff that gets their kicks out of beating up on prisoners. And 9 out of 10 times they’ll get away with these abuses (that violate our rights). So it’s done again and again. There is one, Lieutenant Sheila Lawson, who has on more than one occasion, forcefully cut a prisoner’s hair. Recklessly and uncaring, she’ll cut or nick a prisoner’s face or head during the process. Generally Lieutenant Lawson only gets a slap on the wrist, a short suspension, or no punishment at all.

This same Lieutenant Lawson has been known for her derogatory comments, telling certain prisoners that she will “slit your throat” or “cut your head off, put it in a box and mail it to mommy.” She also has been known to, along with Lieutenant Aimee Brown, beat up prisoners, then lock them up in “max” and hold them there until the bruises heal up. They always get away with this! Sadly many of the women here don’t realize that the staff’s offenses are grounds to file a lawsuit, and often those who do know are too afraid to do anything about it.

We the women of Central Mississippi Correctional Facility are forced to live in “condemned” housing units. I’m sure this is due to the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) not accepting federal funds because doing so would allow the “Feds” to mandate how things are run here. Instead, we’re forced to wade through shit, be exposed to and breathe in harmful black mold for extended periods, and drink contaminated water. They claim the prison system is financially broke, yet they purchase new vans, trucks, pickups, golf carts, and Commissioner Pelicia (“Moving MDOC Progressively Forward”) Hall dresses to the nines with fancy coiffed hair, grinning her ass off, and feeling pleased as punch with herself, but they still don’t want to let people out of this Hell!

We write the media, our families, anyone who will listen, and nothing changes. I’ve not mentioned much yet of the drugs that more and more come in here every day, and every day things keep getting worse and worse, and we need help! They say it’s a privilege to be housed on the “Yard.” NO WHERE on the (CMCF) ‘Compound’ is it a privilege … just HELL!!


To support the struggle of prisoners in Mississippi and elsewhere contact the IMHO or Twitch Entropy at [email protected]. — Editors


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  1. Alicia Gray

    The yard is Nasty and unlivable and so is quickbed ! They could improve it alot. Mold , sewage is unreal! Ive contacted health department, sentors , ACLU , commissioner still nothing has been resolved. I was there for 7 yrs came home with serious medical problems. Inmates have to be dying to get medical attention or someone has to raise hell to get them help.

  2. Samantha

    I was at CMCF in 2010 till 2013 which I did get out and i came back but it’s was horrible there I was pregnant when I went first time medical attention was umm…lets just say thank gosh it wasn’t my first pregnancy and it took forever to get me to get my off grounds and then when we would get back we stay locked up in a cell in 720 which is the hospital on the prison ground well that what it suppose to be it’s horrible CMCF the yard for the woman was closed down when I was there bc of the problems toilet backing up building litterly falling apart mold bugs and people health ugh it’s so bad there I wouldn’t want my dog in these building heck not even a nasty ol mice it’s horrible phone hardly work guards ain’t doing shit unless you was a inmate who had some pull and they talk to us like garbage it’s doesn’t matter we are all still humans here

  3. Elizabeth

    This is all true. I did 5 years (4 on the yard). The unprofessionalism, verbal and physical abuse is unforgivable. At this point, I pray for exposure to bring about positive change for the women still incarcerated at CMCF.

  4. Gypsy No More

    This is very disheartening… In 2 weeks ‘ll be going for (hopefully) give or take a year but up to 5. Felony DUI. Is there anything I can do before hand to determine which one I go to or is there any other advice? I had heard about some issues with upkeep but not to this extent. Granted, OF COURSE it isn’t supposed to be a Holiday Inn but my gosh.



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