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Activist group Until Freedom demands Mississippi shut down Parchman prison

Angelo Pinto and Yandy Smith-Harris (Photo by Lerae Funderburg for Steed Media)

Until Freedom poses a solution

Until Freedom is a phenomenal group of individuals and activists. It was founded by Tamika D. Mallory, who grew up in the movement and spearheaded the 2017 Women’s March on Washington; Angelo R. Pinto, an attorney at the forefront of prison reform; Mysonne Linen, a hip-hop artist and former inmate who has an intimate, first-hand working knowledge of the criminal justice system; and Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian American who helped lead the Women’s March and fought against Trump’s travel ban against Muslims. Yandy Smith-Harris is on the group’s board of directors and plays a very active role in everything the organization does.

Their work is far beyond what is summarized herein, and they have been at it for years. They show up and show out whenever and wherever injustices are prevalent and use their voices and platforms to bring light to the situation — and they get results.

In this situation, they are demanding that Parchman prison be shut down forever. A portion of Parchman was already shut down and condemned more than a decade ago based on a successful lawsuit initiated by the ACLU.

Apparently a shutdown and declaration of condemnation did not prevent the Mississippi Department of Corrections from moving some of the inmates in the general population there in recent weeks. That means a section of a prison on a plantation that was deemed uninhabitable more than  10 years ago is now the home of a number of people.

This is an indication of just how bad the conditions have been at Parchman and other Mississippi state prisons for a while. The movie Life starring Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence and Bernie Mac, while comical in nature, was created to bring light to the conditions of Parchman prison. Here we are 20 years later with no improvements in the prison, the conditions or the overall quality of life for those incarcerated or those working within the system itself.

After 20 years, it’s time to give it up immediately, if not sooner. That’s exactly what Until Freedom intends to do: Shut. It. Down.

Naturally, it won’t happen overnight. Housing will have to be secured for the inmates. Health facilities will have to be consulted for those suffering injuries. Legislation will have to be enacted to prevent this from ever happening again.

But the idea is to put a plan in motion that will close this God-forsaken place and ensure that another one doesn’t pop up in its stead.

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