Two civil rights groups have sued the state of Mississippi for alleged human rights abuses at one of the state’s for-profit prisons.
A class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) describes how a “perpetual state of crisis at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility puts inmates at a “grave risk of death and loss of limbs.”
The lawsuits asserts that prison officials have been aware of the conditions for years at the facility operated by the Management and Training Corporation, but have not corrected the problems.
“The issues found at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility represent a long history of inhumane prison conditions in which the state has allowed private prison operators to mistreat and abuse people,” SPLC managing attorney Jody Owens II said in a statement. “As we remember the tragic costs associated with private prison operators, we must demand more oversight of these facilities.”
Many cells in the facility do not have working lights and toilets, forcing prisoners to defecate in bags or on plastic trays, the lawsuit says. Inmates are often denied basic medical care. One prisoner allegedly went blind from a lack of glaucoma medication. Another developed gangrene and had his finger partially amputated after being stabbed.
Some prisoners spend years in solitary confinement and many others often lose 20 to 30 pounds from being underfed, according to the lawsuit.
Psychiatrist Terry A. Kupers studied the facility in 2011 and found that the mental health programs were poor and that the facility was inadequately staffed.
“All inmates report significant weight loss since arriving at EMCF, from ten to 60 pounds, and from my direct observation it is clear that all the men are much thinner, almost emaciated, in comparison to old snapshots I viewed in their charts or on their identity cards showing them much heavier,” Kupers wrote in his report.