State Watch

DOJ investigation finds Mississippi prison ‘routinely’ violates the Constitution

FILE – The front gate of the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Miss., is shown Nov. 17, 2021. The U.S. Justice Department says it has found “severe, systemic” problems at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. The department on Wednesday, April 20, 2022, released findings of its two-year investigation of Parchman, which began after an outburst of violence that left some inmates dead and others injured. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

The Mississippi State Penitentiary ‘routinely’ violates the constitutional rights of the people incarcerated there, a months-long investigation from the Department of Justice (DOJ) found.

The DOJ sent a 59-page letter to the state on Wednesday regarding its findings that the penitentiary, known as Parchman, violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution, which prohibit excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment and require equal protection for all under the law.

Specifically, the Parchman does not provide “adequate mental health treatment,” lacks “sufficient suicide prevention measures,” allows prolonged solitary confinement and does not do enough to protect inmates from “violence at the hands of other incarcerated people,” the Justice Department said

“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,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ’s civil rights division said in a statement. 

“Our investigation uncovered evidence of systemic violations that have generated a violent and unsafe environment for people incarcerated at Parchman,” Clarke added.

The department added that its investigation of Parchman began in February 2020. It was prompted by 15 people who died while in state custody in Mississippi between December 2019 and February 2020. Some of those deaths were the result of riots at the state facilities, while others were deemed suicides, assaults or remain unresolved.

The DOJ said other investigations into the Southern Mississippi Correctional Institution, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility, which were launched around the same time, are still underway.

Tags civil rights Department of Justice Incarceration in the United States Kristen Clarke Kristen Clarke Mississippi Mississippi prisons Parchman
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