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‘The Gangs Run the Prison’: Witness Disputes Official Parchman Death Count

A gang helmsman at Unit 30B of the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Miss., shouted a threatening message about some inmates he had singled out from that unit in January 2020.

“We’re going to make an example out of these guys,” the African American inmate proclaimed in earshot of Timothy Myers, a white man at the tail end of a 25-year kidnapping sentence, an offense for which he says he is innocent.

“You don’t mess with our shit,” Myers recounted the gang member saying. The speaker and his companions proceeded to beat the three inmates they called out to a pulp, two of whom died as a result.

Myers, now 61, left the Mississippi Department of Corrections’ custody in October 2020, about nine months after that occurrence. He later became aware of the April 2022 Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division report, which found that conditions at Parchman violate the inmates’ constitutional rights. While looking at the report, he “was trying to see” whether it detailed what happened to the inmates the gang helmsman called out that day in January 2020. 

When he could not find mention of the incident, he reached out to the Mississippi Free Press in July 2022 to share his recollections.

Since August, MDOC officials have repeatedly ignored this publication’s requests for an interview with Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Burl Cain for this story.

On Nov. 7, a DOJ spokeswoman told the Mississippi Free Press in an email that the department is “continuing to investigate conditions at three other prisons in MS, so we do not have any additional comment at this time,” after a request for the latest developments since that report’s release. The three other prisons include the Southern Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville; Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl; and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility in Woodville.

In January 2020, two inmates at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Miss., died at the hands of fellow inmates at Unit 30B of the facility. Photo courtesy MDOC

On Nov. 4, Myers told the Mississippi Free Press that he hoped to “sell” the story to

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