A guard at the Yazoo County Correctional Facility said that if county leaders don’t take their pleas for help seriously, a strike is in the works.
“There are a lot of things not right in that place,” said Chima Nwachukwn, who has been employed at the local jail for about a year and a half. “We are just asking the county board to come and see so that they can understand. We are giving them notice. If they don’t try to do anything for us, we are going on strike.”
Nwachukwn appeared before the Yazoo County Board of Supervisors last month with a list of problems at the local jail. From the facility’s construction to poor lighting and camera systems to a shortage of manpower, he made his presentation in the hopes that some assistance would come, perhaps with a meatier budget to hire more qualified guards.
But he said he felt “cut off” and “rushed” by the county board. He said he was unable to finish his list of items to discuss.
Nwachukwn said he attempted to be added to the agenda of Monday’s board meeting. But he said his request was denied.
“After talking with other guards, I wanted to come to The Herald to give a notice,” Nwachukwn said. “We are talking about a strike. It is as if the supervisors don’t want to hear what we have to say. It is as if they don’t care.”
The conditions at the Yazoo County Correctional Facility have been highlighted for several months. Warden Jay Shaw said only one supervisor has visited the facility since the staff began sharing their concerns with the county board.
“Supervisor Lee Moore came when he was first elected,” Shaw said. “He hasn’t been back since then, and the other supervisors have not come yet.”
Nwachukwn said the inmates know they are truly the ones in charge. With only one guard working, the situation has grown dangerous, he said.
“We had an incident where one guard was surrounded by 72 inmates,” Nwachukwn said. “At one time, there were 24 cases of COVID. But none of the guards exposed could quarantine properly. We still had to work because we don’t have enough employees. We have families at home, but we are still coming to do our work faithfully.”
Nwachukwn said there is a difference between leaders and rulers.
“Leaders hear the voice of their people, while rulers care only for themselves,” he said. “People are crying for help. We don’t have leaders hearing our voices. Do something for your people. They need to pinch themselves. We can all feel. They need to remember that.”
Nwachukwn said a strike will happen if the county leaders continue to ignore the situation.
“We are doing our best to keep a good facility,” he said. “We are willing to do our jobs, but we need help. We are begging for help that hasn’t arrived. The job is not the problem. It is the people in charge.”