A ninth inmate has died at Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman, the county coroner said on Sunday.
The prisoner Joshua Norman, “was found hanging in his cell during a security check at 11:12 am.,” Heather Burton, Sunflower County Coroner said in a statement.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections said no foul play is suspected in the death of Norman, who was in a one-man cell at the time of his death.
“In my professional opinion after viewing the scene, no foul play was involved. Official cause of death and manner of death are pending autopsy results,” Burton said in the statement.
His death makes nine this year at the penitentiary. At least three of the previous deaths were attributed to violence, the DOC said in a tweet.
Two other inmates – Timothy Hudspeth and James Talley – were killed in altercations Monday and Tuesday. Their deaths are unrelated to a recent series of killings within the prison system, Burton and the DOC said.
Parchman, where roughly 3,600 of Mississippi’s 19,000 inmates are incarcerated, has been the target of intense criticism over its “failing infrastructure” and recent deaths.
The deaths followed an announcement that new leadership was installed at the DOC.
Former Commissioner Pelicia Hall stepped down amid widespread concerns about Parchman’s violence and infrastructure woes. She announced her resignation late last year and said she’d be taking a job in the private sector.
Last week, during his first day on the job, interim Commissioner Tommy Taylor was quoted on the DOC Twitter feed as saying, “We’ve got to be transparent. We’re going to be fiscally responsible, and we’re going to be compassionate.”
In a statement about the latest deaths, Taylor said DOC officials are working hard to restore order at Parchman.