Parchman sees improvements under new MDOC Commissioner

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Mississippi is infamous for having one of the most dangerous prison systems in America, and that’s exactly why Governor Tate Reeves decided to bring in longtime warden Burl Cain as the commissioner of the Department of Corrections (MDOC).

Cain, who is credited with turning around one of the country’s bloodiest prisons during his time overseeing the Louisiana State Penitentiary, has already started turning around Parchman Farm—Mississippi’s most violent prison.

“Everything is working better than I thought,” Cain said. “Parchman is really calming down. You wouldn’t believe it if you saw it.”

Some of the changes that Cain has made at Parchman include new and improved work programs, a seminary program ran by former inmates, and the implementation of hundreds of cameras across the prison farm.

“These are game-changers,” he said regarding the recent changes. “This is really changing the culture and creating moral rehabilitation.”

Another big change that is set to come is air conditioning. Cain plans to install air conditioning units throughout Parchman, something the penitentiary has never had before.

“When people say, ‘you’re keeping them too cool,’ the point is I want them to get out and not hurt you again,” Cain explained. “I want them to be rehabilitated. That’s what corrections does. I don’t want to just lock and feed. That’s not what we’re supposed to do, and even though victims are on our minds, we want less victims when they get out. That’s what it’s all about.”

It seems as if the violent and gang-infested environment of Parchman is slowly but surely turning around under Burl Cain, and when asked what could speed up the process, he only has one request of the Mississippi State Legislature.

“I may get in trouble saying it, but I’d like to be out from under the (State) Personnel Board for one year to give me a chance to get more lean where I need to be and reshuffle what we’re doing.”

The last time MDOC was granted the ability to administer their own hiring process was from 2015-2017.

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