COVID-19 outbreak confirmed at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility

Former inmate and gang member speaks out about prison conditions.
Former inmate and gang member speaks out about prison conditions.
Updated: Oct. 26, 2020 at 5:53 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A COVID-19 outbreak has occurred at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Agency officials confirmed the fact to WLBT on Monday, two days after we reported that at least five inmates housed at the facility had died since October 5.

“Central MS Correctional Facility … does have an outbreak, but they do not report any COVID-related deaths in the last week,” State Epidemiologist Paul Byers said in a statement.

He went on to say that the deaths that occurred there in the last week were “anticipated.”

Two CMCF detainee deaths were reported on October 20: Frank Mackabee, 61, and Darrell Weathersby, 55.

Mackabee was pronounced dead at Merit Health Central in Jackson, where he had been since September 29. Weathersby was found unresponsive in his bed in an open-dormitory area of the prison, according to an MDOC news release.

WLBT has sought clarification as to whether Byers was referring to Weathersby’s death.

Department of Health spokeswoman Liz Sharlot said the agency would not provide specific details on any particular case, and referred further questions to the individual facilities.

CMCF Superintendent Ron King was unavailable for comment, but someone in his office forwarded WLBT to Grace Simmons Fisher, MDOC spokeswoman. No further details were available Monday afternoon.

Mackabee was serving four sentences, including a life sentence for a homicide/murder in Covington County. Weathersby was serving five years for felony DUI in Carroll County.

Statewide, 804 people in MDOC custody have tested positive for coronavirus since March, according to corrections department figures.

Six cases are active, including four at CMCF, and one each at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman and the Leake County Correctional Facility.

Overall, the highest number of cases have been reported at the George County Correctional Facility (235), the Carroll-Montgomery County Correctional Facility (115), CMCF (91) and Parchman (82), the report states.

CMCF can house up to 4,131 offenders, according to MDOC’s website.

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