Justice department announces investigation into conditions in four Mississippi prisons

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The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division announced today that it has opened an investigation into conditions of confinement in four of Mississippi’s prisons.

The investigation will examine conditions at the Mississippi State Penitentiary (Parchman), Southern Mississippi Correctional Institute, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, and the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility. The State of Mississippi is responsible for all four facilities. The investigation will focus on whether the Mississippi Department of Corrections adequately protects prisoners from physical harm at the hands of other prisoners at the four prisons, as well as whether there is adequate suicide prevention, including adequate mental health care and appropriate use of isolation, at Parchman.

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The Department has not reached any conclusions regarding the allegations in this matter.  The investigation will be conducted under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA).  Under CRIPA, the Department has the authority to investigate violations of prisoners’ constitutional rights that result from a “pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of such rights.”  The Department has conducted CRIPA investigations of many correctional systems, and where violations have been found, the resulting settlement agreements have led to important reforms.

The Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section is conducting this investigation, with support from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Northern and Southern Districts of Mississippi.  Individuals with relevant information are encouraged to contact the Department via phone at 1-833-591-0288 or by email at Community.MSDoc@usdoj.gov.