Inmates at the Mississippi Department of Corrections minimum-security Pike County Community Work Center say conditions in the facility are poor and regulators are turning a blind eye to serious problems.

Inmates said the facility lacks working heat and their cell blocks have been frigid, with recent nighttime temperatures reaching as low as 27 degrees.

The inmates told an Enterprise-Journal reporter the heat has been out for as long as they could remember but that it wasn’t as much of a problem until the weather turned cold.

They said they do not have access to a working clothes dryer and that inmates in the facility are subjected to poor treatment.

“We’re not animals,” said one man incarcerated over charges of narcotics possession.

“I used to work in animal shelters, and I worked in some animal shelters that treated them way better than the way they treat us.”

Another inmate said individuals incarcerated within the MDOC’s facilities need understanding and empathy from the public.

The inmate said many people are in prison for mistakes involving minor drug crimes in their past, but that they aren’t inherently bad people.

The inmates allege an inspector has apparently made periodic visits to the facility and tended to ignore glaring issues with the facility, falsify information in the reports and leave out negative details like a lack of working heat or clothes dryer in the facility.

MDOC inmates allowed to work at community work centers must be within eight years of their release date, must be free of any rule violations for three months and cannot have been convicted of sex or violent crimes, child abuse, arson or of having attempted escape within the last five years.

Many incarcerated at community work centers are convicted of nonviolent narcotics offenses.

Mississippi Department of Corrections Communications Director Grace Fisher did not immediately return requests for comment on Thursday.

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