As Mississippi plans on Wednesday for the first time since 2012 to execute an inmate, death penalty opponents criticized “atrocious” conditions in the federally investigated prison where David Neal Cox is expected to die by lethal injection.
Cox, 50, was sentenced to death for the fatal 2010 shooting of his ex-wife, Kim Kirk Cox. He will be killed at 6 p.m. CST at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said on Wednesday.
Cox pleaded guilty in 2012 to capital murder. He also pleaded guilty to several other counts, including sexual assault. A jury pronounced the death penalty.
Prosecutors said Cox shot his wife and left her bleeding to death for several hours as he sexually assaulted his stepdaughter three times in front of her dying mother. Cox has exhausted legal remedies and filed court documents claiming to be “worthy of death.”
The US Department of Justice opened a civil rights investigation in the Mississippi prison system in February 2020 after a series of inmate deaths in the previous months. Federal prosecutors have said they will review conditions in four state prisons following the deaths of at least 15 inmates since December 2019. The investigation examines whether state prison officers are adequately protecting inmates from physical damage and whether there are adequate health and suicide prevention services. .
The investigation will focus specifically on conditions at Parchman, the Southern Mississippi Correctional Institute, the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility and the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility, the Department of Justice said. A DOJ representative could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.
“Parchman Farm is under investigation by the Justice Department for atrocious detention conditions,” Death Penalty Action’s Abraham Bonowitz said Tuesday as he met with other activists in the capital of the state in Jackson. “Brown drinking water. David Cox and other prisoners report being bitten by rats. So when someone gets to the point of saying, ‘Hey, I have an easy way out, I’m going to take it. . ”You must ask why?
The death penalty action asked Governor Reeves to intervene in Cox’s execution.
Bonowitz and others who want to abolish the death penalty, including some religious leaders, admitted Cox’s guilt on Tuesday. But they said if Cox was killed and the state resumed executing detainees, his death would continue to pose systemic issues around the death penalty, such as the disproportionate murder of people of color and sometimes innocent inmates. .
“While tomorrow’s execution may not be that of possible innocence, the resumption of executions in Mississippi brings us closer to the risk of killing innocent people,” said Lea Campbell of the Mississippi Rising Coalition.
Reeves, who is a Republican, has no intention of granting clemency or delaying the execution, his spokesman Bailey Martin said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The Governor has reviewed the facts of this case and there is no doubt that David Cox committed these horrific crimes. Mr. Cox has admitted his guilt on several occasions and has been found competent by both the Circuit Court and the Mississippi Supreme Court, ”Martin said. “In addition, Mr. Cox himself has filed a motion asking that all appeals be dismissed and that his execution date be set. In light of this, the Governor does not intend to grant clemency or delay this execution at this time. “
Parchman inmates alleged chronic staffing shortages and widespread violence led some inmates to insert their own catheters, treat their own stab wounds and endure seizures without medication. A federal lawsuit filed in February 2020 said in many cases there was only one guard for every 160 inmates.
The lawsuit was the second filed in consecutive months with the help of rappers Jay-Z, real name Shawn Carter, and Yo Gotti, real name Mario Mims, who protested the “inhuman and dangerous conditions of detention” in prisons. The couple also published an open letter to Governor Reeves asking him to close the establishment, which they say has become “a shameful symbol of the moral decay of society.”
The complaint was filed on behalf of 152 inmates who say they are at “constant risk” at Parchman and that the environment is “so barbaric, the deprivation of health and mental health care so extreme, and the failings of security so severe that those confined to Parchman live a miserable and hopeless existence facing daily imminent risk of substantial harm in violation of their rights under the US Constitution.