Officials at a corporate Mississippi prison will have to answer for alleged human rights abuses that took place in one of the state’s for-profit correction centers now that two major-league civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit addressing the issue.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Southern
Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced Thursday they have filed a
class-action lawsuit against the state of Mississippi because of
how inmates at East Mississippi Correctional Facility are
constantly at “grave risk of death and loss of
The suit alleges that inmates
in the prison, which is the state’s primary special needs
facility for convicts with mental health issues, are subjected to
long isolation periods in “barbaric” conditions, often in
rat-infested cells with broken toilets.
stabbings and beatings are frequent because the locking mechanism
on the cell doors can be readily defeated, and some officers are
complicit in unlocking doors to allow violence to occur,” the
The detention center is run by
Management and Training Corp., based in Centerville, Utah, which
is not named in the lawsuit. The ACLU and SPLC assert Mississippi
lawmakers have long known about the conditions but have failed to
Dr. Terry Kupers, a
psychiatrist who studied East Mississippi Correctional Facility,
wrote in 2011 that an overburdened prison psychologist,
inefficient mental health programs, and staffing problems were
issues that could have serious implications.
“All inmates report
significant weight loss since arriving at EMCF, from ten to 60
pounds, and from my direct observation it is clear that all the
men are much thinner, almost emaciated, in comparison to old
snapshots I viewed in their charts or on their identity cards
showing them much heavier,” Kupers wrote, as quoted by the
Jackson Clarion Ledger.
Medical conditions are so
bleak, the suit claims, that one inmate went blind from glaucoma
and another had a finger amputated after failing to receive
treatment for gangrene.
“Many cells lack light and
working toilets, forcing prisoners to use trays or plastic bags
that are tossed through slots in their cell doors,” wrote the
SPLC. “Rats often climb over prisoners’ beds. Some prisoners
even capture the rats, put them on makeshift leashes and sell
them as pets to other prisoners.”
The Management and Training
Corp. operates 22 for-profit prisons in eight states, and named
is in a slew of controversies. Allegations range from a prison
warden ignoring an alarm, thereby allowing prisoners to escape,
to “rampant” sexual abuse.
In 2007, two guards at one of
the firm’s Texas prisons were charged with orchestrating a
smuggling ring after they were pulled over, while in uniform,
driving a van with 28 undocumented immigrants in the back.
This article originally appeared on: RT