PARCHMAN, Miss. (WJTV) – On Wednesday, April 20, 2022, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced there is reasonable cause to believe that the conditions and practices at the Mississippi State Penitentiary violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Clay Joyner for the Northern District of Mississippi and U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca for the Southern District of Mississippi made the announcement.

The DOJ concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe Mississippi routinely violates the constitutional rights of people incarcerated at Parchman by:

  • failing to provide adequate mental health treatment to people with serious mental health
    needs;
  • failing to take sufficient suicide prevention measures to protect people at risk of self harm;
  • subjecting people to prolonged isolation in solitary confinement in egregious conditions
    that place their physical and mental health at substantial risk of serious harm; and
  • failing to protect incarcerated people from violence at the hands of other incarcerated
    people.

As required by the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), the DOJ provided the state of Mississippi with written notice of the supporting facts for these findings and the minimum remedial measures necessary to address them in a comprehensive 59-page findings letter.

“The Constitution guarantees that all people incarcerated in jails and prisons are treated humanely, that reasonable measures are taken to keep them safe, and that they receive necessary mental health care, treatment, and services to address their needs,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke. “Our investigation uncovered evidence of systemic violations that have generated a violent and unsafe environment for people incarcerated at Parchman. We are committed to taking action that will ensure the safety of all people held at Parchman and other state prison facilities. We look forward to working with state officials to institute comprehensive reforms.”

The department’s investigation began in February 2020. The DOJ’s investigation of conditions at Southern Mississippi Correctional Institution, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility is ongoing.