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Corrections: ACLU Lawsuit Unfair to MDOC Reputation

JACKSON, Miss.–Speaking out against a lawsuit by the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Miss. Dept. of Corrections says conditions are being adequately monitored at prisons run by the private company MTC.

Though Corrections initially planned to only respond to the lawsuit in court, Commissioner Chris Epps came out with a statement Wednesday.

“The allegations made against MDOC officials are unfairly damaging to its commitment to provide efficient and effective offender custody, care, control and treatment consistent with sound correctional principles and constitutional practices,” said the news release.

LINK: Previous article with AUDIO and VIDEO /corrections-hit-with-lawsuit-over-inhumane-conditions-at-prison/

The suit contends there are barbaric conditions at East Miss. Correctional Facility in Lauderdale County, which is where many mentally ill inmates are housed. SPLC Atty. Jody Owens contended that inmates were having to defecate in plastic bags because of sewage backups and that others were hit with pepper spray for asking for help.

“When MDOC has been made aware of problems, it has responded accordingly. It does not knowingly ignore informed and sound requests for solutions. Prison in itself can be considered barbaric,” said Wednesday’s news release.

The suit was filed May 30 and a group called Friends and Family of Youth Incarcerated at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility was on hand at a press conference at the front of Corrections headquarters.

That group said those same type conditions, with the addition of ill-trained staff, led to a riot at the Walnut Grove facility that ended with permanent injuries for some.  That includes the son of group founder Mike McIntosh.

“I didn’t know what happened until after the fact,” he said. “They actually hid the story from me and made sure I couldn’t find him. Then when I did find him, he was in some terrible shape.”

McIntosh, of Hazlehurst, said his son is recovering still and is in better shape, but he does not know where is son is right now, only that he is still in the state prison system. The incident happened while the private prisons were being run by GEO Systems. That management contract has since gone to Management and Training Corporation of Utah.

“MDOC has monitors at all of its prisons, including EMCF,”said Epps. “MDOC was not satisfied with EMCF’s previous operator, The GEO Group Inc., and the plaintiffs in the recent lawsuit agreed with the decision to go with a new operator. The plaintiffs indicated they were happy when MTC was hired. Now they indicate they want the current operator fired. We believe that MTC is doing a good job, and are confident the court will agree.”

The mere fact that MDOC has settled prior litigation with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) shows its willingness to sit at the table to listen, to do what is right, based on facts, Epps said.

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