The Parchman investigation, which began in February 2020, is one of several major prison investigations launched or given higher priority under Ms Clarke, a liberal civil rights attorney. The department is currently investigating reports of abuse and neglect in Georgia prisons and five minor detention centers in Texas.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves acknowledged the system’s flaws on Wednesday. Mr. Reeves, a Republican, declined to comment on the report’s conclusions, citing the possibility of a federal lawsuit against the state, but said he had helped make incremental but significant changes that would undermine his commitment to the state. improved conditions.
“We’ve made significant progress at Parchman over the past two years, everything from significantly reducing the number of prisoners in Parchman to working with the legislature this year to get funding to increase the number of officers we have,” he said. reporters.
But he suggested that Washington should be patient with Mississippi, one of the poorest states in the country. “We know that staffing is an issue that we need to keep improving,” he said, adding that the state intended “to do everything in our power to resolve those challenges very quickly.”
But the Justice Department’s investigation found that a lack of resources was not the only problem. Poor management of the complex, due to “non-functional accountability or quality assurance measures”, also contributed to the violent and squalid living conditions experienced by many inmates.
In addition, state officials showed “deliberate indifference” to those circumstances for years, contributing to an outbreak of violence in the prison that began on Dec. 31, 2019 and lasted for weeks, the department reported.
“There were widespread reports of unlivable and unsanitary conditions in Parchman; violent homicides and suicides are on the rise; workforce plummets to dangerous levels; and growing concern that gangs were filling the void,” the report said.