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MDOC Vows to Work with DOJ to Enhance Inmate Safety, Improve Operations

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.

Mississippi Department of Corrections (Photo from MDOC website)

  • While MDOC disagrees with the DOJ report, state corrections officials say they will work with the Justice Department to identify possible resolutions.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice released its findings into the conditions of confinement at three Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) facilities. The DOJ says they are in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

READ MORE: Justice Department says violence, housing conditions in 3 Mississippi prisons violate inmates’ constitutional rights

At issue in the DOJ report are the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, South Mississippi Correctional Institution, and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility, which combined houses about 7,200 inmates.

Late Wednesday, the Mississippi Department of Corrections responded to a request for comment on the findings.

Kate Head, Government Affairs Coordinator, said MDOC had received the report of the DOJ’s four-year review of the two state facilities and one private facility, and while they disagree with the report, MDOC will work with the DOJ to identify possible resolutions.

“The report focuses on two areas: inmate-on-inmate violence and the use of restrictive housing. At the core is MDOC’s continuing efforts to increase correctional officer staffing – an issue faced by prisons across the country,” Head said in response to Magnolia Tribune.

DOJ claims that Mississippi does not adequately supervise the incarcerated population, control the flow of contraband, adequately investigate incidents of serious harm, or provide adequate living conditions.

“These problems are exacerbated by chronic understaffing that has allowed gangs to exert improper influence inside the prisons,” DOJ noted.

Head went on the say that over the past four years, MDOC “has worked tirelessly to increase staff through additional compensation, the development of career ladders, streamlining the hiring process, job fairs, and implementing special duty pay.”

“We’re grateful for the often thankless work of the men and women of MDOC, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to recruit additional staff,” said Head. “While we disagree with the findings, we will work with the DOJ to identify possible resolutions to enhance inmate safety and continue ongoing efforts to improve operations at MDOC.”

Head did not elaborate on what MDOC disagreed with in the DOJ report.

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Read original article by clicking here.

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