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DOJ Orders MS Jails Closed

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), citing conditions such as maggot-infested cells, racially segregated holding cells, fire hazards and a high number of jail suicides, has ordered the closing of jails in four Mississippi counties, Neshoba County, Sunflower County, Lauderdale and Jones County.

The DOJ also cited more than a dozen other jails throughout the state as having routinely substandard or dangerous conditions which violate prisoners' constitutional rights. Jails not ordered to close must improve conditions or face federal suit. New jails are planned for the four counties forced to close their facilities.

The 1993 investigation was held in response to an unusually high number of suicides, 47 since 1987, in Mississippi jails. The DOJ is still investigating some of those incidents because of accusations that the suicides were preventable or were actually murders. State officials deny the allegations.

The DOJ found serious problems in staffing, medical care, training and sanitation. In some cases, basic suicide prevention techniques such as removing detainee's shoe laces, were not followed.

Source: Corrections Today

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