A majority of the Mississippi Department of Corrections prisons were placed on lockdown on Monday.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the MDOC said that all of its facilities except for the female populations at the Washington County Regional Correctional Facility and the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility are being placed on lockdown due to what it referred to as a “statewide incident.”
The MDOC said that investigations are ongoing but did not provide further details on what this incident might be. The lockdown will be in effect until further notice.
During a prison lockdown, inmates need to remain within their cells for the entire day or until a particularly violent situation is resolved. According to MDOC, this particular lockdown will cancel all activities external activities.
“Visitation, commissary, and outside recreation at all state-run and privately managed institutions in the Mississippi Department of Corrections system and regional jails, except for two areas, are canceled until further notice pending investigation of a statewide incident,” the Facebook post reads.
The statement added that lockdowns are necessary to ensure the security and safety of staff and inmates. It also said that the safety of both inmates and staff outweigh the temporary loss of the inmates’ privileges.
Family and friends of affected inmates said that leaving them in the dark makes things difficult.
“It’s so hard not knowing what’s going on. When they go on lockdown and we can’t hear from our loved ones it makes it really hard. All I want to know is if my loved one is ok, just like many others worry about theirs,” a Facebook user by the name of Dee Saltsgiver commented on MDOC’s post.
Some also expressed concern saying that lockdowns make things worse and just make the inmates want to fight.
Although the incident that prompted the lockdown remains unclear, prisons may be placed on lockdown for different reasons such as illness or fights.
In August, the Elmira Correctional Facility, a maximum security state prison in Chemung County, New York, was placed in complete lockdown after a series of inmate fights. Another maximum-security prison, the Great Meadow Correctional Facility, was also locked down that month because of a violent gang fight.
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections also placed its prisons in lockdown earlier this year in response to multiple instances of prison staff falling ill. The source of multiple sicknesses among the prison workers turned out to be liquefied synthetic marijuana.