Letter to Editor – Tony Smith 9/10/2013

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Parchman abuses easily covered over by prison officials, inmate says

Re: Response to Editorials in paper Friday August 23, 2013 by Mr. Sid Salter and Tuesday August 27, 2013, by Mr. Charlie Mitchell.

I am a subscriber to The Panolian and a long time resident of Panola County having gone through school and graduating from South Panola in 1978. My family still resides in Panola County. I have also been incarcerated at Parchman since 1997.

I am concerned about where Mr. Salter’s information about Parchman originated from. In his editorial he states that Unit 32 is used for lockdown. THIS IS NOT TRUE. In fact, Unit 32 has not housed inmates since 2008. Unit 32 was closed behind a class action lawsuit by the ACLU challenging the horrific living conditions.

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It is equally bad in the remaining units that are still open. That houses inmates. The heat and mosquitoes here are unbearable in the summer, especially to the elderly. The plumbing and electrical in these buildings are not up to code. The medical and dental here is as bad as some third world country and most guards are on the take. Which brings me to Mr. Mitchell’s editorial.
Now Mr. Mitchell’s editorial was quite promising. “Investigative Reporting,” good to know it is not a totally lost profession. Here at Parchman these officials tell Mississippi residents what they need to hear, then no investigations are done. The ACA inspects this prison periodically.

However, these officials already know when the inspection is and what to expect. They have had time to hide things, put the right inmates in place where the inspectors will be, cover up any discrepancies, throw on a coat of paint, then come up with an excuse of why something is not in order.

Truth is, when the inspectors are here, they are not seeing an every day normal operation of this prison, what they are seeing is an illusion. For two months now I have been trying to obtain a good pair of state issued shoes. One officer has tried to sell me what the state is required to provide for me. When I tried to repeat this to her supervisor, her supervisor became angry at me.
These two staff members ordered new shoes from Central Warehouse in my name on July 30, 2013, would not issue me my shoes and held my shoes until August 28, 2013, the day they were sent back to Central Warehouse.

To date I am still without decent shoes and this is a health hazard in my assigned work detail.
At the camp, where I am housed, medium custody inmates are not being granted the same privileges as other inmates. At every other camp, inmates are allowed gym call at least once a week to receive haircuts, add songs to their MP3  players, and to play ball.

Inmates out here at Unit 28 have ordered MP3 players; paid for songs and cannot utilize their devices.

Medium custody inmates at Unit 28 cannot attend and participate in Kairos religious services that even the lockdown inmates, which is now Unit 29, can participate in.

So you see Mr. Howell. like most Inmates, we know this is not going to be a vacation, but we are human beings. Most of us are doing the best we can in order to serve our sentence without being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, retaliation, humiliation, or intimidation. We can really use some of that “Investigative Reporting” that Mr. Mitchell speaks of.

In closing, Mr. Howell I really do enjoy reading The Panolian and I think a great deal of your staff.
Mr. Salter just got it wrong this time, although I realize it is just his opinion. It is because, unless you end up on this side of the bars, you will never be able to learn exactly what it is like here. Parchman officials are not going to let you experience seeing how they operate on a normal day to day basis. How’s that for transparency?

Tony Smith #R1422