FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2021
Jane Walton, Communications Director
601-968-0600 ext. 234
DISABILITY RIGHTS MISSISSIPPI RELEASES REPORT ON PRISON CONDITIONS
Investigation finds unlawful conditions, abuse, and discrimination
JACKSON, Mississippi — A report released today by Disability Rights Mississippi (DRMS) details the unlawful, inhumane conditions in Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) facilities across the state. The findings of DRMS’ year-long investigation reveal an alarming pattern of rights violations in MDOC facilities, particularly for offenders with disabilities.
The full report—as well as a gallery of never-before-seen images taken inside Mississippi State Penitentiary (MSP, also commonly referred to as Parchman), South Mississippi Correctional Institution (SMCI) and Central Mississippi Correctional Facility (CMCF)—can be accessed online at drms.ms/prison.
The report provides evidence of violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in housing facilities at MSP, SMCI, and CMCF. Further, DRMS found that offenders in MDOC custody are denied adequate medical and/or mental health care in violation of the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution.
From delayed or denied access to medical treatment to egregious indifference on behalf of the correctional facility staff, the conditions found within MDOC facilities and outlined in DRMS’ report exemplify the state’s blatant disregard for the law and deliberate indifference to the human and civil rights of offenders in the state’s custody.
“The condition of MDOC facilities, the lack of appropriate medical and/or mental health care for offenders, and the overall appalling treatment of offenders, specifically and especially those with disabilities, is a disgrace,” said Polly Tribble, Executive Director of DRMS. “Mississippi leadership has been made well aware of the state of these facilities and has failed to take any action towards remedying these circumstances.”
Copies of the report have been delivered to the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, members of the state legislature’s corrections committees, and Mississippi’s congressional representatives. In a letter accompanying the report, Tribble wrote to state leadership: “Please know that DRMS intends to hold Mississippi and its leadership accountable for its failures. It is our hope that incarceration in Mississippi no longer equates to a death sentence, but a chance for reform, rehabilitation, and reflection. Mississippi can do better for its citizens with disabilities, including those that reside in our correctional facilities.”
DRMS is the designated protection and advocacy (P&A) agency for the state of Mississippi. As such, DRMS is required to monitor and investigate service providers, including correctional facilities, with respect to the rights and safety of individuals with disabilities.
DRMS’ monitoring of MDOC facilities is ongoing. Per DRMS’ duties as codified by Congress, the agency has extensive authority to pursue legal remedies to ensure the protection of the rights of Mississippians with disabilities.
DRMS is the federally mandated protection and advocacy (P&A) agency for the state of Mississippi. DRMS’ mission is to promote, protect and advocate for the legal and human rights of all people with disabilities, and to assist them with full inclusion in home, community, education, and employment.