One of two prisoners believed to have escaped Saturday from the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman is back in custody, investigators said early Sunday.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections tweeted just before 3:30 a.m. that David May was in custody.
Further details weren’t immediately released.
David May, 42, is serving a life sentence for two aggravated assault convictions in Harrison County, Mississippi. He escaped from the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman on Saturday. Investigators announced Sunday he’s back in custody. (Mississippi Department of Corrections)
The Corrections Department said that May, 42, and Dillion Williams, 27, were discovered missing from Parchman during an “emergency count” about 1:45 a.m. Saturday.
May was serving a life sentence for two aggravated assault convictions in Harrison County, and Williams was serving a 40-year sentence for residential burglary and aggravated assault in Marshall County.
Dillion Williams, 27, was serving a 40-year sentence for residential burglary and aggravated assault in Marshall County, Mississippi. He escaped from the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman on Saturday and was still on the run Sunday. (Mississippi Department of Corrections)
Gov. Phil Bryant tweeted Saturday that he directed “the use of all necessary assets and personnel” to find the two inmates who escaped.
Parchman is a series of cell blocks scattered across thousands of acres of farmland in Mississippi’s Delta region. Inmates who’d escape their cells sometimes wouldn’t make it off the property.
Five inmates have died in prison violence since Dec. 29; three of those deaths took place at Parchman.
Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall, Mississippi’s outgoing prisons chief, said Friday that four of the five killings of inmates since Sunday stemmed from gang violence, as guards struggled to maintain control of restive inmates.
Relatives of inmates who spoke to The Associated Press and other news outlets said there’s an ongoing confrontation between the Vice Lords and Black Gangster Disciples.
The two gangs have warred behind bars in Mississippi; previous confrontations at Parchman and other prisons have taken place over the past 15 years. A 2015 survey found nearly 3,000 Black Gangster Disciple members and nearly 2,000 Vice Lords in prisons statewide.
Mississippi’s prison system has struggled to fill guard vacancies, with Hall saying it’s difficult to attract people with salaries starting below $25,000 a year. Some guards ended up bringing illegal drugs and cellphones into prisons. Criminal charges were filed in 2014 against 26 state correctional officers.
Some prisons, including South Mississippi, had areas where many prisoners were housed in bunks in one large room, instead of individual cells, which could lead to worsened security problems. South Mississippi, in Greene County, was locked down for almost all of 2019, in part because of guard shortages.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.