1,500 miles from home, a prisoner gets a visit from his mom

Eleven years ago California’s prison system was bursting at the seams. Gymnasiums were being used as dormitories, and inmates were sleeping in triple bunks. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency that allowed for urgent measures to be taken to bring down the population inside, including shipping thousands of inmates to prisons in other states.

At one point California was planning to bring all prisoners back in-state by 2016, but that deadline has come and gone. Governor Brown recently vetoed a bill that would have stopped California from using private out-of-state prisons by 2021.

Daletha Hayden’s youngest son, William Mitchell, is one of 4,000 California prisoners currently serving time out of state. Nine years ago, he was convicted of robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. He was sent to state prison in California, but then he was moved to Arizona and finally to a privately run facility in Mississippi.

Hayden hadn’t seen her son for a year, when she traveled to the Mississippi prison to visit him.

Daletha Hayden’s youngest son is one of more than four thousand California prisoners serving time in out-of-state prisons. This summer she went to see him for the first time in a year since he was moved out of California to Mississippi.
The prison is outside Clarksdale, Mississippi in the Delta. California also contracts with a prison facility in Arizona.
Plane tickets, hotels, rental car and living expenses all add up. The entire trip cost almost $1,500. Hayden’s friends, family and a community group she’s part of all contributed to get her here.
In her hotel room Hayden speaks to her son, William Mitchell, from the prison. About 1,200 California prisoners are housed in Mississippi.
“I was just thinking about seeing him and giving him a hug and what he’s going to look like and what he’s going to think I look like after not seeing me for a whole year.”  
Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility is owned by the company that until recently was known as Corrections Corporation of America. Now the company has a new name: CoreCivic.
All Hayden is taking with her is a clear plastic bag with quarters for the vending machines and her ID.
Hayden has three days of visits with her son. They talk about everything from TV shows to spirituality. “The hardest thing was watching her leave,” said William. “I was like please take me with you.”