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U.S. Dept. of Justice launches investigation into conditions at Miss. prisons

The crisis in the Mississippi State Prison System continues as the death toll climbs to 12...
The crisis in the Mississippi State Prison System continues as the death toll climbs to 12 since December 29th.(Photo source: WLOX)
Updated: Feb. 5, 2020 at 4:50 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLOX) - The United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) announced Wednesday that an investigation into the conditions at four Mississippi prisons will be conducted.

Mental health care, suicide prevention and proper use of isolation are some of the issues the investigation will look into. They will also center their attention on whether prisoners are ensured safety, especially in regards to other prisoners who could potentially be violent.

Mississippi State Penitentiary (Parchman), Southern Mississippi Correctional Institute, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, and the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility are among the prisons being examined.

This investigation comes after more than a dozen inmates died inside Mississippi prisons within the year, prompting government officials to speak out.

Governor Tate Reeves shed light on the prison systems in Mississippi and the unsafe conditions last month.

Attorney General Lynn Fitch also acknowledged the issues surrounding the Mississippi Department of Corrections on Wednesday. She said in a statement that she and her office " immediately took a proactive position to meet and address these challenges."

“I visited Parchman personally and my staff and I have had conversations with the Department of Justice and others about next steps,” Fitch said. "I will work closely with the U.S. Department of Justice in their investigation and I am committed to ensuring safety and justice for all parties.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center was another entity that reacted to USDOJ’s announcement. They spoke out about the prison population and how it needs to be reduced safely and effectively.

Mississippi’s prisons have a brutal history rooted in slavery and convict leasing, and it is time for the federal government to step in and do what the Mississippi Department of Corrections has failed to: end the violence and ensure humane living conditions. Dozens have died and hundred of others live in squalid conditions with standing sewage in freezing temperatures as a result of the Mississippi’s neglect. Mississippi’s prisons are overcrowded, understaffed, and aren’t safe for anyone.

The Civil Rights of Institutional Persons Act (CRIPA) will conduct the investigation, looking further into prisoners’ rights.

If you have any relevant information, call the USDOJ at 1-833-591-0288 or email community.MSDoc@usdoj.gov.

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