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U.S. Department of Justice finds treatment at Parchman unconstitutional

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The Mississippi State Penitentiary in January 2020

Since February of 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice has been conducting investigations on four Mississippi prisons including Southern Mississippi Correctional Institution, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, Wilkinson County Correctional Facility, and the Mississippi State Penitentiary.

Out of the four, only one investigation is complete with the Justice Department releasing the final findings on the Mississippi State Penitentiary on Wednesday.

The penitentiary, also known as Parchman, is accused of routinely violating the Constitutional rights of incarcerated people in several forms with most violations going against the eighth and fourteenth amendments.

A bulleted list was included by the Department of Justice on how Parchman has infringed on others’ rights:

  • failing to provide adequate mental health treatment to people with serious mental health needs;
  • failing to take sufficient suicide prevention measures to protect people at risk of self-harm;
  • subjecting people to prolonged isolation in solitary confinement in egregious conditions that place their physical and mental health at substantial risk of serious harm; and
  • failing to protect incarcerated people from violence at the hands of other incarcerated people.

In addition to the list, a 59-page letter was included giving the facility that detailed the minimum remedial measures necessary to address the Department’s findings.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Clay Joyner for the Northern District of Mississippi, and U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca for the Southern District of Mississippi made the announcement on Wednesday.

“The Constitution guarantees that all people incarcerated in jails and prisons are treated humanely, that reasonable measures are taken to keep them safe, and that they receive necessary mental health care, treatment, and services to address their needs,” Clarke explained. “We are committed to taking action that will ensure the safety of all people held at Parchman and other state prison facilities.”

The investigations on the remaining three facilities are ongoing. If you have relevant information regarding the investigations, you can contact the department by phone at (833) 591-0288 or by email at Community.MSDoc@usdoj.gov.

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