(UPDATED) Mother of an inmate at Mississippi prison lacking power tells of terrible conditions

On Friday, I posted about the power outage at the low-security federal prison in Yazoo City, Miss. A union official told local TV station WJTV that it could be eight weeks or more before power is restored. Average July and August temperatures in Yazoo City climb into the 90s.

Yesterday, I heard from the mother of one of the Yazhoo inmates. She asked to remain anonymous out of fear that prison officials may retaliate against her son. But I was able to confirm that her son is indeed an inmate there.

He reports that the conditions are horrible and the area where the damage was is being treated like a crime scene. What could possibly take 430 Union workers 8-10 weeks to fix?

[A]t least 4 times in the weeks prior to the 15th … the power went off (once for as long as 11 hours). Wasn’t that enough of a warning signal that there was a problem somewhere? And shouldn’t they have been getting these electrical engineers to prevent a disaster such as they now have?

The inmates have fans in the units powered by generators, but the generators have been allowed to run out of gas on several occasions sometimes for up to 8 hours. The inmates are allowed to move these fans at will and some of them have stupidly placed them back to back causing the fans to burn up. many are hanging their sweaty clothes on them, blocking the air for others. The guards are allowing this stupidity because they do not want to go into the units to enforce rules, because it is so hot in there.

They are not being fed properly . . . and the men have only cold water for showers . . . 

These are men who have committed non-violent crimes, mostly drug possession. They have already been given sentences far more harsh than necessary (in most cases) due to the federal mandatory minimums.

If animals were found to be locked in a shelter under these conditions, this would be all over the news and the public would be outraged. These are HUMAN BEINGS.

She said she also fears that if conditions continue, there could be rioting.

I’ve reached out to the Yazoo City prison for comment. If I get a reply, I’ll post it here.

UPDATE: Well that was fast. Just a few hours after this post went up, I heard back from the inmate’s mother, who says the power is now back on. She says that according to her son, it happened just this afternoon.

Radley Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties for The Washington Post. He is the author of the book "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces."
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Radley Balko · June 25