Two Mississippi inmates fall ill, die in hospitals, state says

Published 10:03 pm Monday, May 4, 2020

Two Mississippi inmates have died in hospitals after becoming ill in state prisons, the state Department of Corrections said.

Darryl J. Swanier, 58, died Monday at Delta Regional Medical Center in Greenville, the department said in a news release. He was taken there from the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, where he was serving life sentences for two capital murder convictions.

Swanier was convicted in Harrison County and sentenced June 24, 1982. He was sentenced in the second case on Aug. 27, 2002, in Marshall County.

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The Department of Corrections said Swanier was in the prison hospital for several days before being taken to Delta Regional on Saturday. An autopsy will be done. The department said no foul play is suspected.

Swanier’s death happened two days after an inmate died Saturday at Greene County Hospital in Leakesville. The Department of Corrections said in a statement that day that Rodney Brown, 60, became ill at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution.

Greene County Coroner Ladd Pulliam told the Clarion Ledger that he doesn’t believe Brown’s death was caused by the new coronavirus. Officials said Brown had a history of medical issues, his death didn’t appear to be suspicious and an autopsy would be done.

Brown was about 12 years into a 60-year sentence for mayhem and driving under the influence after pleading guilty to causing a crash that killed two members of the Alaska National Guard in 2006.

Brown was at least the 37th inmate to die in a Mississippi prison since late December, and Swanier was at least the 38th. The state prison system came under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department after several inmates were killed or injured during outbursts of violence in late December and early January.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Grace Simmons Fisher has said that because of a federal privacy law, the department will not say whether an inmate has died of COVID-19.