The Mississippi Department of Corrections reported 15 inmate deaths in the month of August alone and the staggering number has families of the deceased demanding answers and the state reaching out to the FBI to help get them. Per CNN, commissioner Pelicia E. Hall said in a statement Friday that the MDOC has reached out to federal and state-level authorities, though she maintained earlier in the week that "the number of deaths the department is reporting is not out of line with the number of deaths in previous months." The inmates were housed in at least three different Mississippi facilities and reports indicate that at least nine were in a hospital at their time of their death. The deceased were aged between 24 and 75.
As officials seek out answers, family members of the deceased are demanding more information about what went wrong behind the state's barbed wire fences. Among them is the family of Nicole Rathmann, who was due to be released after serving a drug-related sentence just days after she died of an aneurysm. Per NBC News, her father Kent Rathmann believes the state was negligent in taking care of his daughter, who struggled with meth use. "She was an addict. They didn’t help her," he said. As frustrated as families are, the state says its medical examiner has a major backlog and causes of death will take time. In her statement, Hall said "most of the reported deaths during the month of August are from illnesses or natural causes, such as cancer and heart disease." (Read more Mississippi stories.)