Prison safety concerns raised after report of inmate death shows Mississippi man had meth in system while behind bars

Published 7:04 am Wednesday, June 19, 2024

A toxicology report that indicated a Mississippi man had meth in his system while he was in prison has led to questions about the safety of the facility where the man was found dead.

The Natchez Democrat reports that during the Adams County Board of Supervisors’ second June meeting on Monday, District 4 Supervisor Ricky Gray expressed deep concerns regarding the safety of inmates transferred from Adams County to the Concordia Parish Correctional Facility.

Gray highlighted the case of Blarrington Ashley, a Natchez resident who died in late April while held at the Concordia Parish jail. Ashley, arrested by the Natchez Police Department on a charge of shoplifting over $1,000, had meth in his system at the time of his death, according to a toxicology report.

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“I got the toxicology report, and I read it. It’s confusing to me,” Gray said. “How long do the effects of meth last? I looked it up, and it says anywhere from 8 to 24 hours. So, if the person is in jail for a while, how is he getting meth in his system?”

County Attorney Scott Slover suggested that Ashley obtained the drug while incarcerated. Gray further expressed alarm about the conditions at the facility, citing personal accounts from former inmates about gang violence and a lack of protection. “It’s a problem keeping people safe when they are over there,” he said. “There is no protection; who is liable for that?”

Slover responded, “Ultimately, we can all get sued for it.”

Gray urged the board to take immediate action to ensure the safety of the inmates. “We are going to have to do something and something quick. It’s not safe. I know a lot of people say it’s jail; you’re not supposed to be safe. But you are supposed to be safe in jail,” he asserted.

No other supervisors commented on the matter. Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Brandy Spears stated on June 4 that an autopsy determined Ashley’s death was due to hypertensive and atherosclerotic heart disease, but did not provide toxicology results.