Troubled Private Prison in Mississippi Closes

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A privately operated Mississippi prison that a federal judge concluded was effectively run by gangs in collusion with corrupt prison guards closed yesterday, its prisoners sent to other state facilities, reports the New York Times. Conditions at the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility, were deemed so substandard by U.S. District Judge Judge Carlton Reeves that he wrote in 2012 that it “paints a picture of such horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world.” “Good riddance to Walnut Grove, a cesspool sponsored by Mississippians’ tax dollars,” said Jody Owens of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The move to shutter Walnut Grove came one month after the Justice Department said it would phase out its use of private prisons to house federal inmates after concluding that such facilities are more dangerous and less effective than prisons run by the government. The Obama administration decision does not affect states, which have increasingly come to rely on private firms to manage prison populations.  Walnut Grove was run by the Utah-based Management and Training Corp. The 1,260-bed facility had been operating since 2012 under a federal consent decree for violating prisoners’ constitutional rights, and in 2014, it was the scene of two major riots.

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