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Justice Department finds problems with violence, gangs and poor conditions in 3 Mississippi prisons – INCLUDING LEAKESVILLE’S S.M.C.I.

By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS  – Associated Press
JACKSON (AP) — Gangs, violence and sexual assaults are a problem in three Mississippi prisons because the facilities are short-staffed and inmates are sometimes left unsupervised, the Department of Justice said in a report Wednesday.
The department said the state failed to protect inmates’ safety, control contraband or investigate harm and misconduct.
“These basic safety failures and the poor living conditions inside the facilities promote violence, including sexual assault,” the department said. “Gangs operate in the void left by staff and use violence to control people and traffic contraband.”
The department investigated Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, South Mississippi Correctional Institution and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility. The new report says the conditions in those three prisons are similar to problems that the department reported in 2022 at Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.
“People do not surrender their constitutional rights at the jailhouse door,” Kristen Clarke, the department’s assistant attorney general for civil rights, said during a news conference Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the Mississippi Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to an email message from The Associated Press seeking response to the federal findings.
The new Justice Department report says “appalling conditions” in restrictive housing practices at the Central Mississippi and Wilkinson prisons cause “substantial risk of serious harm.”
“Restrictive housing units are unsanitary, hazardous, and chaotic, with little supervision,” the Justice Department said. “They are breeding grounds for suicide, self-inflicted injury, fires, and assaults.”
The department said the Mississippi Department of Corrections does not have enough staff to supervise the prison population, with job vacancy rates of 30% to 50%.
“The mismatch between the size of the incarcerated population and the number of security staff means that gangs dominate much of prison life, and contraband and violence, including sexual violence, proliferate,” the Justice Department said. “Prison officials rely on ineffective and overly harsh restrictive housing practices for control.”
Clarke said that because of “poor door security” and lack of supervision in Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, multiple incarcerated men were able to enter a women’s housing unit.
“They stayed and engaged in sexual activity for an extended period,” Clarke said. “Although the sexual activity was reportedly consensual, the other women in the unit felt unsafe and were at risk of harm.”
She said one male inmate reported he was sexually assaulted in a shower at South Mississippi Correctional Institution.
“Multiple gang members waited outside the shower area while he was assaulted to prevent others from interceding,” Clarke said. “He also reported that he had been previously assaulted at another Mississippi prison and denied protective custody.”


  1. Raven Rayne on March 11, 2024 at 8:26 am

    As a Nurse who used to work at SMCI over 10 year ago, by reading this, I can say, not much has gotten better but worse. Unfortunately, prisoners are not treated with the same care as they would if they were out of prison. Ever heard of “out of site, out of mind”? Most people don’t have a clue, nor care about the conditions and lack of proper care that offender’s get. Worst part most of the US don’t have a clue what its like being housed in a “southern” prison, much less the deplorable and corrupt living conditions. There is a lack of Medical/Mental Health care in our Southern Prisons. There is a shortage of Medical and Correctional staff in most states, which leaves the offenders and staff in a no win situation, with no improvement’s, until tragedy strikes and people get hurt, sick, or worse, lives are lost. Prisons everywhere need a major reform.

  2. Lee on April 5, 2024 at 10:11 am

    If you have a loved one in a MS prison and can’t get anything done by calling the prison. Call or email
    MS Office Of Constituent Services. I tried calling the SMDC so many times about my son I would never get answers or they would never call back. I emailed the OCS and they got stuff done and quick.

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