View Full Version : Inmates' relatives voice concerns in Jackson

11-23-2004, 11:10 AM

November 23, 2004

By Jimmie E. Gates (

About 25 relatives of inmates met Monday with Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps to voice concerns about inmates' treatment.

One of those at the meeting was Don McGowan of Starkville, who pushed his recently released 25-year-old son in a wheelchair.

McGowan said when his son went to prison 42 months ago, he was walking and able to care for himself. But he came out Nov. 3 in a wheelchair and is unable to move without help following a knee surgery that had complications. McGowan blamed inadequate medical care for his son's condition.

"I think he (Epps) was genuinely concerned, but I don't think we got adequate answers," McGowan said after the 90-minute meeting.

McGowan said his son, Olasha Burton, who went to prison for robbery, had knee surgery in April. But he said a catheter was left in his son too long, and it destroyed his bladder.

"He deserved to do his time, but not be treated this way," McGowan said.

Epps and four staff members met with the family members behind closed doors at the Drury Inn in Jackson.

Epps said he was glad he met with the group but found no validity to any of the complaints. He blamed most of the concerns on a communications problem.

In one case, Epps said a woman couldn't understand why her son was in maximum security.

"I told her he was in maximum security because he was a gang leader," Epps said. "I told her to help me discourage him from being a gang leader."

Some family members agreed the meeting opened the doors of communications but said it didn't accomplish anything.

"I think it was a good meeting because it gave some people an opportunity to get things off their mind," said DeSoto County resident Alice Pollard, whose grandson is serving 20 years for manslaughter.

The Rev. John Patterson of Alcorn County, president of the 66-member Operation Another Chance, said the group will seek legislation to improve inmates' conditions in prisons. Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union joined with family members to complain that inmates in Mississippi prisons and jails are subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. The ACLU wasn't invited to Monday's meeting.

11-23-2004, 11:11 AM
I understand that our very own "I-Care" attended this meeting. I am sure she can give us much better details than this article.

11-24-2004, 06:54 AM
I was BLESSED to be invited to this meeting and it was a specific time frame that was allotted for questions to Mr. Epps due to his schedule. These had to be submitted prior to the meeting to Mr. Epps. Only those issues could be addressed. I will say in 4 basic words "It was a BEGINNING!!!" Families that had submiited questions about their loved ones were addressed. Some good results, some with not so good. In my opinion Mr. Epps did all he could for those who had good "records" while in prison.
On the food issue I totally disagree with his statement which was that he had personally eaten at the facilities and the aligations of the food being so bad were unfounded. I posted an article on another section with email addresses. I ask you all to email Mr. Epps about the food. Remember as I stated in the other post, If it is concerning a private institution you must email Mr. Sparkman. Here is the web site to go to and get their email addresses:
Please be mindful if you use your loved ones name or number they can be put in max for "rumors aganist MDOC" until the alligations are proven. As we know no one will be in any hurry to prove other wise while they sit in max and we all suffer.
There is a STRONG group out there in MS. that are working VERY HARD to begin new chapters all over MS. This group WILL help you with these type of issues and as they stated to Mr. Epps after the comlaints were discussed they told him that "No retaliation" on the inamates that their cases had been brought to him that day. That they would be watching. Mr. Epps shook hands and agreed to that. He was asked to take another look at the age 70+ inmates and let them come home. Statistics show age 70+ are VERY UNLIKELY to commit another crime. To please let them come home to their families and spend their last days with those who love them. He is going to take this under consideration.
I want to remind you all to tell our loved ones they MUST file an ARP with any grievance against MDOC before anything can be done. We can not do this for them. The Loved One incarcerated MUST do this themselves.
In attendance was also the new Medical Compliance Director MS. Lidell. I think she MAY be very good. I think we need to give her a chance on medical issues. NOW is she what we need??? We will have to wait and see. But she seems to be going to be a great asset to MDOC. MDOC is still working to improve CMS ( is that the abbreviations for the medical group seeing to our sick loved ones??). Anything specific please email her. Her email is on that link. If you do not get a reply back in a timely manner please PM me.
AGAIN I would recommend to you personally,if you PM me, to a group that is SO ACTIVE and GETTING RESULTS. They are a WONDERFUL group of folks. I am honored to be able to associate with them as a leader for 2 reform groups that I belong too. We are joining hands for a coallition for prison reform. All of our groups coming together on issues and sending out info to HURTING people in the State of MS. over our prison issues. They are to begin about 5 new chapters in the State because distance to the main Chapter is such a long distance travel. They are looking for more chapters to begin in other areas. If you PM me I will find someone from the group to help you find a group as close to you as possible.
We were told that we need approx. 150 folks to join in the coalition for prison reform from ALL of our groups to go to the capitol and demand changes in prison reform. So your voice is VERY IMPORTANT to accomplish our tasks at hand.
Mr. Epps agreed to hold a training session HIMSELF for this group to TEACH them the point system. He stated it was a very complicated system tp explain. Where this system came from I have forgotten the name of it but we are hoping soon that MDOC will adopt something different. NOW that may take legislation to change. SO again you see the need you all being a "voice from the WILDERNESS".
Hope this helps and anything else specific please feel free to PM me and I will do all I can to help you to get active in groups near you to HELP MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!

God Bless...