Prison-Industrial Complex Unravels in Mississippi

“On Thursday, Chris Epps, who abruptly resigned as the $132,000-a-year Corrections Commissioner a day before, pleaded not guilty to an indictment that he received more than $700,000 in bribes that helped him pay off his $360,000 home and beach condo.

[…]

Corruption has included gangs extorting the families of inmates. Gang members have also paid correctional officers to not only smuggle in drugs and other contraband, but also to do favors for gangs, including allegedly “popping” locks to enable assaults and killings.”

NYT: Chief Quits as Mississippi Prisons Face Inquiry

A federal lawsuit filed in 2013 by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union charged that at one state prison, the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, mentally ill prisoners were “locked down in filthy cells for days, weeks or even years.”

“Setting fires is often the only way to get medical attention in emergencies,” said the lawsuit, which is pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

The prison, which houses about 1,400 inmates, is managed through a contract with the state by the Utah-based Management Training Corporation.

In 2012, a federal judge approved an agreement between the Justice Department and the state to implement an overhaul at another state jail, the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, where it was discovered that staff members had coerced inmates to have sex in exchange for food.