Richard Beasley

At least sixteen prisoners died in Mississippi prisons last month, per latest reports.

Richard Beasley, 55, was pronounced dead at 5:55 a.m. on Aug. 31, 2018, at Allegiance Specialty Hospital in Greenville, according to a statement uploaded to the Mississippi Department of Corrections website Tuesday.

Beasley was housed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman. He was sentenced to 28 years for burglary-larceny on November 20, 2012, in Lee County.

The manner and the cause of death are pending an autopsy, according to MDOC.

Washington County coroner Methel Johnson said Tuesday she had sent a staff member to conduct an investigation and did not have any more information.

Between 2012-2017, MDOC reported an average of 4.5 inmate deaths per month — no more than 11 in any given month. Prior to this year, the state averaged five prisoner deaths in the month of August.

Last week, top prisons official Pelicia Hall said in a statement that she had called upon both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the state’s Department of Public Safety to conduct investigations into the deaths.

The Department of Corrections has previously maintained that most of the deaths are due to natural causes.

Read the rest of Mississippi Today’s coverage of last month’s spike in prison deaths here.

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Michelle Liu was a 2018 corps member for Report for America, a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms. She covered criminal justice issues across the state from June 2018 until May 2020. Prior to joining the Mississippi Today team, her work appeared in the New Haven Independent.