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MDOC to work with federal government to enhance inmate safety amid scathing report

South Mississippi prison
Photo courtesy of MDOC

The Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) will work with the Department of Justice (DOJ) despite disagreeing with the findings of a federal investigation launched into prisons across the state regarding inmate safety.

Last week, the DOJ issued a scathing report that the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, the South Mississippi Correctional Institution, and the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility – which house a collective 7,200 inmates – failed to protect those jailed from gang violence while also not providing adequate living conditions at the facilities.

Internal prison staff at the trio of prisons is reported to have failed to supervise the incarcerated population and control the flow of contraband. The facilities are also accused of conducting insufficient investigations into incidents of serious harm.

In a statement provided to SuperTalk Mississippi News by the MDOC, state officials objected to the conclusions in the report, but did not go into much detail as to why. Rather, MDOC did acknowledge that it plans to comply with the federal government in looking to make necessary improvements at the three prisons.

“While we disagree with the findings, we will work with the DOJ to identify possible resolutions to enhance inmate safety and continue ongoing efforts to improve operations at MDOC,” the statement reads.

The issues mentioned, which the DOJ reported as 8th and 14th Amendment violations, are said to be further exacerbated by chronic understaffing which has subsequently allowed gangs to exert improper influence inside the prisons, despite MDOC Commissioner Burl Cain stating that the gang population is on a sharp decline in state prisons.

Though attempts to reel in additional correctional officers to work in prisons statewide have yet to materialize, as has been the case across the nation, MDOC pledges to continue the search for more employees to address the persistent issue of having a lack of sufficient staffers on site.

“Over the past four years, MDOC has worked tirelessly to increase staff through additional compensation, the development of career ladders, streamlining the hiring process, job fairs, and implementing special duty pay,” the statement from MDOC continued.

“We’re grateful for the often thankless work of the men and women of MDOC, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to recruit additional staff.”

The DOJ launched its investigation of MDOC facilities in February 2020 under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.

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