FOX13 Investigates: Precautions corrections departments in the Mid-South take to prevent riots

WATCH: FOX13 Investigates: Precautions corrections departments in the Mid-South take to prevent riots

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — FOX13 reported on violent riots that happened inside the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

According to MDOC, five inmates died in riots statewide. This allegedly stemmed from a turf war between the Vice Lords and Gangster Disciples, two gangs.

Content Continues Below

In light of this, FOX13 Investigates began asking questions of the two other states in the FOX13 viewing area.

Q&A with Arkansas Department of Corrections spokeswoman:

What precautions are regularly taken to avoid riots in Arkansas Corrections facilities?

Riots or other threats can happen at any time and at any institution. This is a problem business. The goal is to minimize the chance of their occurrence. Everything that is done security-wise is a precaution…from the design of the facility to inmate classification and emergency preparedness to training. These aren’t just as a precaution to riots; they are a precaution to everything. It’s important to have the right staff in the right areas and to ensure they are trained are equipped properly. Staff also have to know policy inside and out. We continually stress vigilance and avoiding complacency. If anything or anyone looks, sounds, smells, walks or seems out of place, it cannot be ignored. Usually, inmates will give clues when they are planning to do just about everything, and it’s our job to watch for the clues and act on them. Let’s say an inmate always reads a book in the evenings, but then he stops doing that. He hands around in the day room instead. That’s a clue that something is going on with him. And that’s just one inmate in one housing area, and some prisons have thousands of inmates. This work is not easy, and the tiniest things can become huge in the blink of an eye.

Are any extra precautions being taken in light of riots happening in the area?

We are continuing as usual.

When riots happen nearby, such as these in MS, are inmates in AR checked more closely for contraband?

Contraband searches are continual regardless of what is or isn’t happening in other states.

What is the protocol for ensuring gang violence doesn’t plague Arkansas prisons or correctional facilities?

Members of gangs and other security threat groups must be identified and tracked. Vigilance is key.

Q&A with Tennessee’s Department of Corrections spokesperson:

What is being done to prepare for possible riots inside their prisons?

The Tennessee Department of Correction maintains a posture of readiness for responses to a multitude of critical incidents. This readiness involves constant review of policies and best practices, as well as, the periodic testing of emergency response plans. Specific information is deemed confidential pursuant to T.C.A. 10-7-504.