A New York Times editorial sheds light on the allegations behind a lawsuit that’s just the latest in a series of challenges to what plaintiffs say are horrendous conditions in Mississippi prisons. And “horrendous” is no exaggeration.
The complaint, filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union, says that abuses have “cost many prisoners their health, and their limbs, their eyesight, and even their lives.”
In March 2012, Federal District Judge Carlton Reeves in Jackson approved an agreement between the state and the Justice Department to reform a prison then called the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility. The agreement was in response to a lawsuit, which was also brought by the A.C.L.U. and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The abuses there included staff members coercing prisoners to have sex in exchange for food or even phone privileges, officers responding to minor aggression of prisoners by slamming them headfirst into the ground and widespread rape among the young prisoners. A withering Justice Department report called the sexual misconduct by the prison staff and rape there “among the worst that we have seen in any facility anywhere in the nation.”
The conditions at East Mississippi, experts found, were even worse than at Walnut Grove, with “an epidemic of suicide attempts, completed suicides and other self-injurious behavior.”
Read more at the New York Times.