The federal investigation follows a burst of violence that began in late December and prompted the lockdown of prisons across the state. The crisis has resulted in at least 15 inmate deaths in recent weeks.
The New York Times: Justice Dept. Opens Civil Rights Investigation Into Mississippi Prisons
For weeks, Mississippi’s prisons have been gripped by crisis. At least a dozen inmates have been slain or killed themselves, and feuding gangs have forced lockdowns. Images and videos taken on smuggled cellphones have highlighted deteriorating conditions, and legislators and activists have asked for federal intervention. The Justice Department responded to the turmoil on Wednesday by announcing a civil rights investigation to explore whether prison officials have done enough to protect inmates from one another and the quality of mental health care and suicide prevention efforts. (Rojas, 2/5)
The Associated Press: Feds Investigate Mississippi Prisons After String Of Deaths
The investigation by the Justice Department’s civil rights division will specifically focus on conditions at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, the South Mississippi Correctional Institution, the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility and the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility, the Justice Department said. The Wilkinson facility holds state prisoners, and the state pays a private company, Management & Training Corporation, to operate it. (Balsamo and Pettus, 2/5)
The Wall Street Journal: Four Mississippi Prisons Draw U.S. Justice Department Probe
The investigation will be handled by the department’s Civil Rights Division, with help from the U.S. attorney’s offices for the Northern and Southern districts of Mississippi. In addition to the Parchman prison, the probe will look at South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility in Woodville. “We are grateful that President Trump’s administration has taken a focused interest in criminal justice reform and that they care enough about Mississippi to engage on this critical issue,” said Renae Eze, a spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Tate Reeves. “As we continue our own investigations, we look forward to cooperating with them and working together to right this ship.” (Campo-Flores, 2/5)
Meanwhile, in South Carolina —
The Associated Press: Fights, Isolation: Feds Say SC Doesn’t Protect Young Inmates
A South Carolina juvenile prison violates the civil rights of its young inmates by failing to protect them from fights, forcing them to spend days or weeks in isolation for minor offenses and failing to get them mental health when they threaten to harm or kill themselves, federal investigators said. The U.S. Department of Justice ordered South Carolina juvenile prison officials to begin making seven changes in the Department of Juvenile Justice in less than two months or face a lawsuit, according to the report from the federal agency’s Civil Rights Division released Wednesday. (2/5)
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