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

Dawn Alexander

Summary: We are reposting this article from December 16, 2019 about the horrible conditions at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility for women, as it has received several comments with reports by people who either have, or have relatives who have, been incarcerated there — Editors

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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12 Comments

  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.

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  5. A friend

    Hello First I work at CMCF. HOWEVER, I’m not a DOC Employee. I’m putting myself in danger just posting here. I want to help. I work in what is a safe space or safe person or it should be. I hope people can figure out. The job use to be run by DOC but thankfully it is t anymore. Confidentiality is kept. Ok I hope that tells a little as I’m scared, but you all were braver. I’ve been an activist for 33 years for many things. I happened upon this and just one more thing that makes me sick. I’ve never really had a chance to talk to people like this. I want to do it. I can get info to someone who is getting some things done finally. Talk to me. Tell me what to look for and are these COs still there. I’m about to start in that area some now in A and B. Dawn I sent an email to contact me.

    Reply
  6. A friend

    Also I use my own VPN and it cannot be traced.

    Reply
  7. Summer Ann Shadburn

    I myself have been housed on the yard and in quick bed during my 5 trips to CMCF and you are only telling the truth about the condition of the compound. With each trip I made over the 17 years it got worse and worse. I have not been on parole or probation in over 4 yrs.now but I have a son who is currently serving time there and he makes the very same complaints. Its time to do something about ALL of the issues with MDOC especially the treatment of prisoners by officers (we all know where Jaw Breaker got his name)& the housing conditions ASAP. I’LL DO EVERYTHING IN MY POWER TO PASS THIS INJUSTICE ON TO OTHERS. THANK YOU, SUMMER A. SHADBURN

    Reply
  8. Brittany Adams

    I was in cmcf for years and when my brother died I was a for walker for lieutenant Johnson and I had lieutenant Lawson and lieutenant Brown put me in the chow hall when we was on quick bed and beat me and cid came and took pictures of my neck. I was also put on the yard. It’s disgusting in there we went in there to hell. I pray everyday for theses ladies. And pray I never go back there. These people do worst crimes to the prisoners and nothing ever gets done. It’s really sad how we’re force to live in there and treated

    Reply
  9. tom

    Why are these conditions allowed to exist in our society This is barbaric

    Reply
  10. Tiffiny Newton

    Hello,

    My daughter is an inmate at CMCF in Pearl, MS. Today, they moved the women from the zone they have been housed in for years to the zone the men were formerly housed in and the living conditions are beyond uninhabitable. There are roach infestations inside the infrastructure of the racks they are supposed to sleep on as well as crawling all over the outside of the racks and everything else in the building. They were made to dig through a pile of old and filthy mats to sleep on that have been previously used by the men and are most likely covered in roach feces. This is a prison and the inmates have commited crimes which caused their incarceration but they still deserve basic necessacities and a clean living environment. The level of corruption that is going on in this facility is utterly ridiculous. My 18 month old granddaughter and I have experienced the total lack of human decency and respect from some of these Correctional Officers firsthand upon visitation with my daughter and when I filed a formal complaint, things just got worse for her; from a proven false accusation by a CO that caused her to be put in maximum security and lose her belongings to the loss of visitation with her daughter (who was born while she was incarcerated) because my daughter refused to take an already opened drug test which is a breech of protocol in itself; she agreed to take a drug test that was opened in her presence but that was never facilitated and she was given a RVR for refusal to take a drug test which resulted in them revoking her visitation privelages with her daughter. These were all intentional acts of aggression due to me filing the formal complaint. If they treat a visitor there in the manner they treated me and my infant granddaughter that way, i have no doubt that it is substantially worse for the inmates. The stories that these inmates tell of their mistreatment are the truth and it is disgusting to think that this is supposed to be a place of reform but in reality, it does more harm than good. The CO’S are responsible for 99% if not 100% of the drug trafficking that is going on in this facility. They are taking advantage of already disadvantaged individuals and profiting from it. That is not to say that all CO’S are corrupt because I have met several that really care about these inmates and want to see them make it but they are the lesser percentage. I’m begging for these injustices to be investigated and brought to light. Taxpayer money is used to fund this facility and it should at least be in a condition that is livable for these inmates.

    Reply
  11. Grandmother of orphaned children of incarcerated

    My daughter called me crying today. She said she can’t live like this after being moved to 720 from yard. At night, they herded them up and sent them into pure hell. My daughter didn’t get a filthy matt to sleep on. How can such inhumane treatment be allowed. These women kept up the yard. The blatant unfair difference between treatment of men vs women is like we’re not in America. Why? Why so harsh? It’s men who are aggressive, violent and barbaric by nature. The 720 building is infested, backed up, molded and filthy (feces left behind by these “gentlemen” for the women before they were upgraded to their suite. The women were shocked and afraid to sleep with stuff crawling all over them. Burl Cain’s statements are just the spitting words of Satan himself. FAKE! He said the women will be happy in their own space! Talking this up like a life improvement. SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE. I can not, for the life of me, understand why do this to these women/mothers/sisters/wives??? His whole church building, fraudulent God fearing religiousness makes me sick. He is an entitled, privileged, person, who thinks it’s “his place” in the world to be that special , “chosen one”whose purpose in life is to run a hell on earth for the punished. It’s the farthest thing from his proclaimed belief in Christianity. In fact it’s a direct contradiction. The men destroyed 720 now the women live in their leftover filth while they get to live better. I’m so angry, I’m going BURN my flag!

    Reply
  12. Roqci

    A woman named Patsy Davis just died in 720 and laid there for 6 hours before anyone came. My friends call me discouraged and crying everyday from the conditions

    Reply

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