BONNE TERRE, Mo. – A Kansas City woman is pleading for more answers after her son was stabbed seven times while serving a sentence inside a Bonne Terre prison. Now, Joi Howell and state lawmakers are trying to make the Missouri Department of Corrections accountable.
“I don’t wish this on my worst enemy,” Howell said. “I wouldn’t want any other parent to ever feel the way I do.”
Howell’s son, Monte Mitchell, is an inmate at the Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre. On April 3, she got the call no mother ever wants to get.
“My daughter-in-law called me in a panic and told me that my son had been stabbed seven times,” Howell said. “My heart just sank. It would be the reaction that any mother would have.”
The Department of Corrections confirmed to FOX 2 that six men got into a fight and one was stabbed. Howell says her son had to be flown to a saint louis hospital. He had a punctured lung, a chest tube, and received multiple stitches.
Howell was initially told by staff the stabbing happened inside the prison in front of the medical ward. But another staff member told her it happened in the yard.
“I’ve gotten conflicting information about the number of people that he was attacked by, and how the incident occurred,” she said.
In 2022, the Bonne Terre prison has had seven inmate deaths, the most out of any prison in the state. This does not include several injury incidents, including four attacks in February. State Representative Kimberly Collins says she has been denied access to Bonne Terre Several times.
“I think I was denied access because there were things about the facility and the leadership in the facility that they did not want me to see,” Collins said.
Now, Collins is trying to pass House Bill 1922, which would create a separate committee to oversee operations and safety at DOC facilities and keep prisons accountable.
“It would basically serve as a task force. It would be an independent task force that would be charged with investigating complaints inside the prison, as well as overseeing caseworkers, overseeing phones, overseeing the entire department of corrections facilities,” Collins said.
Collins says the committee would consist of Missouri DOC Executive Director Anne L. Precythe, as well as medical professionals, lawmakers, and other individuals. Howell says her son is only months away from parole and she just hopes he will live to see that day come.
“If can happen to my son, it can happen to your son, your daughter, your loved one,” she said. “If we don’t all collectively make some noise, it’s going to continue to happen.”
FOX 2 has requested records from the DOC of all the attacks and incidents at the prison in the past year. We will share those records with you when we get them.