Inmate found dead in Mississippi prison; he’s 11th inmate death since late December

Published 9:32 pm Sunday, January 26, 2020

A Mississippi inmate was found dead in his one-man cell, the corrections department said Sunday, the latest fatality in the state’s troubled prison system.

Joshua Norman, 26, was found hanging in his cell at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, according to a news release from the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton said foul play is not suspected in the death. The investigation is ongoing, and an official cause and manner of death are pending autopsy results, the prison system said.

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At least 11 inmates have died in the state’s prisons since late December, most of them in outbursts of violence. Most of the deaths occurred at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. Prison officials have attributed some of the violence to clashes between gangs.

More than two dozen inmates sued the state Jan. 14, saying understaffed prisons are “plagued by violence” and inmates are forced to live in decrepit and dangerous conditions.

Entertainers Jay-Z and Yo Gotti are paying for the attorneys in the case, a spokesperson for the two confirmed. All of the plaintiffs have been inmates at Parchman.

“The situation at Parchman is an ongoing and lethal humanitarian crisis,” Marcy Croft, an attorney representing Parchman inmates, said in a news release.

Norman was serving five years for armed robbery in Oktibbeha County. He was sentenced April 30, 2019.