Former Mississippi prison leader admits to beating inmate so hard he ruptured an eardrum

Published 9:34 pm Thursday, May 26, 2022

A former deputy warden at the Mississippi State Penitentiary has pleaded guilty in a case involving the beating of an inmate, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday.

In a news release, officials said Melvin Hilson, 49, pleaded guilty to violating the inmate’s civil rights in 2016.

Hilson was accused of repeatedly striking the victim and knocking him down, causing a ruptured eardrum, ear and neck injuries and prolonged headaches. Hilson is set for sentencing on Sept. 1 and faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine.

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Prosecutors said the inmate was waiting to see a care provider in the medical unit at the penitentiary, which is also known as Parchman, when the beating took place. The release said the inmate posed no threat to Hilson and did not fight back.

“This defendant is being held accountable for violating his duty as a corrections officer by unlawfully assaulting an inmate under his custody,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to hold law enforcement officials accountable when they use force without basis and violate people’s civil rights inside our jails and prisons.”