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Escape from Supermax Facts

The team work seemed to have paid off when Harper and Woolard cross the fence perameter of the prison.

The team work seemed to have paid off when Harper and Woolard cross the fence parameter of the prison. (View larger version)

Photograph by BK3 Productions/Diego Garcia

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  • The state of Mississippi purchased land for the prison that would become Mississippi State Penitentiary in 1901.

  • Built in the midst of acres and acres of farmland, the prison functioned something like a planation and was divided into camps that were racially segregated.

  • In the early days, convicts at Parchman worked 10 hour days and slept in long buildings built from bricks and lumber produced on the prison grounds. They referred to their housing as “cages.”

  • In the early 20th century, male prisoners worked the fields, brickyard, sawmills, cotton gin and prison hospital. Female prisoners, who had their own camp, produced clothes and bed sheets.

  • At the original prison, inmates who earned the warden’s trust would work as armed guards. They were kept separate from the general population.

  • The Mississippi State Penitentiary was established in 1901 and is the state’s oldest institution.

  • Parchman can house nearly 5,000 inmates.

  • Every month nearly 200 inmates work in textile, metal fabrication and woodworking shops at MSP.


  • Mississippi State Penitentiary has a cosmetology program, which operates a full-service hair salon for female offenders called The Hair Zone.

  • In 2012, the Mississippi Department of Corrections banned smoking in all of its facilities.

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