Legal group seeks federal inquiry into Mississippi prisons

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UPDATE: 1/7/2020 11:24 a.m.

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – In a letter sent to the U.S. Department of Justice, a U.S. Congressman and Mississippi civil justice advocates called on the agency to begin an immediate investigation into the Mississippi Department of Corrections’ practice of incarcerating more people than it employs guards to keep people safe. 

The letter claims the outbreak of violence, the deaths of five inmates, escapes, and dozens of injuries as the most recent evidence that MDOC has over-incarcerated and understaffed its prison system for years.

The letter was signed by U.S. Congressman Bennie G. Thompson; the Southern Poverty Law Center; MacArthur Justice Center; Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP; Disability Rights Mississippi; Black With No Chaser; Mississippi Center for Justice; Rech Foundation; Clergy for Prison Reform; ACLU of Mississippi; People’s Advocacy Institute; and MS Poor People’s Campaign.


(AP) – Prisoner advocates are calling on the federal government to investigate Mississippi’s prison system for possible civil rights violations.

They say five deaths in recent days highlights deliberate violations of inmates’ constitutional rights.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups say they will send the letter Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Justice. U.S. Rep Bennie Thompson called Sunday for a federal investigation.

The deaths and violence have focused attention on a prison system that fills only half its guard posts. The letter says violence is “directly linked to acute understaffing” and funding has declined.

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