October 25, 2020

Six inmates die this month at Parchman prison, coroner says

By Michelle Liu
Mississippi Today

Two prisoners who served time on death row at Parchman have died in the last month, according to the local coroner.

Sunflower County coroner Heather Burton confirmed to Mississippi Today that Howard Goodin, 65, died this July 16.

Goodin had served two decades for capital murder and armed robbery convictions in Lamar County in 1999. Goodin’s death penalty sentence was vacated in 2012 after the state Supreme Court ruled a “preponderance of the evidence” showed Goodin was mentally disabled.

Another death row inmate, Joseph Goff, died on the morning of July 13, Burton said. Goff, 43, was convicted of capital murder and second degree arson in George County in 2005.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Goff’s appeal in 2010, and his appeals in state court were stayed while he underwent mental health treatment. As of earlier this year, he remained incompetent, according to letters from the Attorney General’s Office and the Office of Capital Post-Conviction Counsel.

The manner of Goodin’s death was most likely natural, Burton said. She did not yet have any autopsy results for Goff.

Burton said six inmates at Parchman have died this month so far, including one by homicide and one by suicide. Burton did not provide names of the homicide and suicide victims, but said that neither were on death row.

Grace Fisher, a spokesperson for the Mississippi Department of Corrections, confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that both Goff and Goodin died at Mississippi State Penitentiary hospital but could not confirm any other in-custody deaths this month.

MDOC does not make information on in-custody deaths readily available to the public. A database produced by the department in June through a public records request showed 21 people died in state custody between January and early May of this year.

Mississippi Today has identified at least seven deaths across Mississippi’s state prisons this month:

July 6: Lance Hagan, Mississippi State Penitentiary.
July 7: Veronica Boatman, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.
July 9: Kenneth Brown, Mississippi State Penitentiary.
July 10: Jeffrey Allen, Mississippi State Penitentiary.
July 10: Keith Bogan, Mississippi State Penitentiary.
July 13: Joseph Goff, Mississippi State Penitentiary.
July 16: Howard Goodin, Mississippi State Penitentiary.