Families of Miss. prisoners concerned about safety after recent string of violence

Families of Miss. prisoners concerned about safety after recent string of violence
Families of Miss. prisoners concerned about safety after recent string of violence (Source: Angela Riley Liggins)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Many families with loved ones being housed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary are concerned about safety follow the death of three inmates in three days.

Many have received frantic phone calls from their loved ones incarcerated at the state Penitentiary at Parchman about the violence that has erupted inside the facility since New Year's Eve.

Angela Riley Liggins received a panicked phone call from her son, Travonta Riley around 6 a.m. Friday morning.

“When I received the phone call he was kind of panicking and asking me to call down there to see if they can get some help in there,” she said.

The call from Riley came hours after two additional back-to-back deadly incidents inside the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

“I have been trying to call back since to see or to check to make sure he’s okay. No one is answering the phone,” said Liggins.

Riley is serving a five-year sentence for marijuana possession at Parchman.

The 28-year-old father of four was assigned to serve his time in Unit 29.

"It’s horrible. No one should be treated that way regardless of why they are there, what happened. They are not animals. They are human. They are human beings and no one should be treated as if they are the scum of the earth,” she said.

The early morning riot erupting around 3 a.m. inside his unit left Riley struggling to breathe according to his mother.

“I fear for my child’s safety there,” said Liggins.

Riley’s mother says her calls to the prison, Mississippi Department of Corrections, even the governor’s office have gone unanswered leaving her in the dark about the safety of her son.

“It’s heartbreaking because you have loved ones here and all of this is going on and you can’t get any answers,” she said.

According to the latest annual report from MDOC there are more than 3,200 inmates housed at Parchman with an inmate to officer ratio of 11 to 1. The national average is about 9 to 1.

Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.