Mississippi Edition


4/13/21 - Rental Relief Program | Understaffing in Prisons | Your Vote, Your Voice - Part 2

A federal emergency relief program targets those facing rent and utility hardships due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Then, understaffing in prisons across Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama has been a problem for years. We examine why it's so difficult to find and keep new correctional officers.

Plus, in our second installment of Your Vote, Your Voice, we explore the different efforts and perspectives shaping the debate over extended early voting.

Segment 1:

Tenants in Mississippi who are behind on their rent and utility bills due to the coronavirus pandemic can now apply for emergency rental assistance through a federal relief program. Mississippi Home Corporation is administering the emergency rental assistance program tasked with allocating $186 million in aid to tenants who facing financial hardships brought on by lost income, unemployment or increased expenses because of the pandemic. Executive Director Scott Spivey shares more with our Desare Frazier. 

Segment 2:

Across the Gulf States prisons are understaffed, which can mean dangerous and unstable conditions for prisoners and guards. Mississippi is addressing the issue head-on with a unique approach. From the Gulf States Newsroom, Becca Schimmel takes a look at that recruitment effort and examines why it’s so difficult to retain correctional officers. 

Segment 3:

In the 2020 election, more than one in six of the 1.3 million ballots cast in Mississippi were some form of absentee ballot. This record coincided with a nation-wide trend - due to the coronavirus pandemic - of larger than usual early and absentee voting. Since then, the record use of mail-in and absentee ballots have brought with it unsubstantiated claims of election fraud and insecurity, propagated by many high profile Republicans - including three of Mississippi's House delegation and Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith. All four voted against the certification of the 2020 election results, and Senator Hyde-Smith received national attention for her comments on Sunday "Souls to the Polls" voting.

False allegations of fraud and insecurity aside, the 2020 election did reveal a nation-wide appetite for expansion of early voting options, including mail-in ballots. Your Vote, Your Voice explores the different efforts and perspectives shaping the debate over extended early voting in Mississippi.

More Episodes


5/14/21 - Adolescents Get Vaccinated | Freedom Rides, 60 Years Later | 1970 JSU Class Finally Walks

Mississippi’s first 12 to 15 year olds get the Pfizer shot after authorization from the CDC and FDA.Then, 60 years after the Freedom Rides, participants reflect on the meaning of their fight for civil rights.Plus, members of Jackson State’s 1970 graduating class get a ceremony - 51 years after the deadly shootings of Phillip Gibbs and James Green.Segment 1:Young teens in Mississippi are getting their first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine that was recently approved for use in the ages of 12-15.The new authorizations means more than 160 thousand adolescents in Mississippi can get vaccinated.At the University of Mississippi Medical Center, 14 year old Clinton resident Rosemary Williamson is getting her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.With her mother Amy by her side, she tells our Kobee Vance why she decided to get her first dose on the first day.Segment 2:This month marks the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, when young civil rights activists rode buses into the south, challenging segregation in busing and public facilities. As they made the journey from the nation’s capital to the Deep South, they were taunted and beaten by white mobs – and jailed. A few of the buses were even bombed. Janae Pierre, from our partner station WBHM, talked to participants of the movement about what their fight means decades later.Segment 3:James "Lap" Baker was supposed to ceremoniously receive his degree from Jackson State College in 1970.But on May 15th of that year,a police involved shooting brought the spring semester to an abrupt end and postponed graduation.Two African-American men were killed and at least a dozen other people were injured.Baker and over 70 of his classmates will march in their caps and gowns for the first time in a special ceremony at the Green-Gibbs Plaza on the campus of JSU.The site is named after the two young men killed by gunfire from the Mississippi Highway Patrol: Phillip Gibbs,a 21 year-old junior pre-law major and married father of an 18-month-old son and a second unborn child; and James Earl Green, 17, a senior at Jim Hill High School, who was killed while observing the chaos. Baker, an eyewitness, remembers crawling through the grass to get to safety that night.He tells our Ashley Norwood the incident forever changed him.The ceremony for the 1970 class also includes the awarding of honorary doctorates to the late Phillip Gibbs and James Green.Nerene Wray, Phillip Gibbs' sister, will be at the site named after her brother to receive the posthumous honor.She says she appreciates that university and the community still remember Phillip.

5/13/21 - New Adolescent Group Now Vaccine-eligible | Hesitancy in Rural MS | ACA Special Enrollment

A leading pediatrician responds to the approval of the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15 year olds.Then, with vaccination rates declining statewide, we examine hesitancy in a rural, majority white community.Plus, we hear from the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health on the special enrollment period for health coverage though the ACA marketplace.Segment 1:Parents in Mississippi can begin scheduling a coronavirus vaccination for children age 12 to 15.The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine has received emergency use authorization from the FDA, and has now gained approval by the CDC for use in the adolescent age group.The decision comes at a time of declining vaccination rates in Mississippi.Health officials say around a quarter of the state's nearly three million residents are under the age of 16.Dr. Anita Henderson is President of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She tells our Kobee Vance the authorization means clinics and hospitals already offering the Pfizer shot can begin vaccinating eligible children now.Segment 2:Mississippi, along with Louisiana and Alabama, have the lowest coronavirus vaccination rates in the country. That’s according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Gulf States Newsroom health reporter Shalina Chatlani has been following this story and traveled to North Mississippi to ask people why they were against the shot. She’s joining me today to talk about some of those conversations.Segment 3:The White House is celebrating a public health milestone this week.New enrollment for health coverage during a special period made possible through President Biden's American Rescue Plan has topped one million Americans.The legislation also lowered premiums for nine million Americans who buy their coverage through the Affordable Care Act, and also reduced deductibles by nearly 90 percent.Dr. Rachel Levine is the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health.She tells our Michael Guidry the special enrollment period is one step in the administration's goal of making health care a right - not a privilege.