Mississippi, Critics At Odds On Extent Of Problems At Private Prison


The East Mississippi Correctional Facility, a privately run state prison in Meridian, has been plagued with problems for years, says the New York Times. Open fires sometimes burn in the solitary-confinement units. Inmates spend months in near-total darkness. Illnesses go untreated. Dirt, feces and sometimes blood are caked on cell walls. When the GEO Group left as the operator in 2012 after complaints about squalor and lack of medical treatment, hopes rose that conditions would improve. Advocates for inmates assert that little has changed under the current operator, Management and Training Corporation, a Utah-based company. The prison is the state’s main facility for inmates with mental illnesses,

Civil rights lawyers and medical and mental health experts who toured the facility recently painted a picture of an institution where violence is frequent, medical treatment substandard or absent, and corruption common among corrections officers, who receive low wages and minimal training. The American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Poverty Law Center have joined to file a lawsuit over conditions at the prison. Mississippi corrections commissioner Christopher Epps and the other defendants have denied the lawsuit's allegations. Epps said conditions had “improved tremendously” since Management and Training Corporation began running it.

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