Documentary Exposing Inhumane Treatment of Prisoners at Mississippi’s Parchman Farm Sparks Calls for Reform

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Premiering exclusively on Saturday, June 17, the film, co-produced by Roc Nation, delves into the efforts made by a team of attorneys to reform the state’s correctional system on behalf of the incarcerated individuals at Parchman.

Documentary Exposing Inhumane Treatment of Prisoners
Documentary Exposing Inhumane Treatment of Prisoners ( Photo: PBS )

A&E’s new investigative documentary, “Exposing Parchman,” sheds light on the notorious Mississippi State Penitentiary, commonly known as Parchman Farm, which has a long history of inhumane treatment towards prisoners

The documentary provides a three-year account of the legal battles fought to end the deadly conditions endured by the prisoners, featuring interviews with families of inmates, members of the legal team, and other influential figures. It offers a never-before-seen glimpse inside the prison, revealing extreme conditions such as flooding, lack of water and heat, appalling filth, and even tragic deaths captured on secret cell phone footage.

One mother, Cheryl Henderson, shares her personal experience with the prison system, blaming Parchman’s failure to provide mental health treatment for the suicide of her son, Chadarion Henderson, at the age of 27. Cheryl, who works as a nurse, recalls her numerous attempts to seek help for her son’s deteriorating mental health during his brief 12-day stay at Parchman. Chadarion’s troubles with the law began in 2016, and a missed check-in with his parole officer resulted in his arrest. After spending 13 months in jail, he was transferred to Parchman, where his mother discovered the true extent of the prison’s harsh conditions.

Parchman, established in 1901, is the oldest prison in Mississippi and has a dark history rooted in slavery

In recent years, the maximum-security facility has faced criticism for its inhumane treatment of inmates, including mass homicides, hangings, and untreated illnesses, particularly affecting people of color. Hip-hop moguls JAY-Z and Yo Gotti filed lawsuits in 2019, drawing attention to the prison’s conditions and prompting an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ’s findings, published in April 2022, revealed violations of constitutional amendments related to mental health treatment and protection from harm.

Cheryl Henderson believes that while lawbreakers should be punished, incarcerated individuals also deserve proper treatment and rehabilitation. She advocates for prison reform, emphasizing the need to provide inmates with the necessary support to reintegrate into society successfully. Cheryl, determined to carry on her son’s legacy, describes him as a loving father with aspirations beyond his status as an inmate.


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