Tag Archive: Mississippi

ACLU sues Mississippi city over ‘debtors’ prisons’

via jursit.org

by Emelina Perez

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [official website] filed a federal class action lawsuit [complaint] on Wednesday against the city of Biloxi, Mississippi, the Biloxi Police Chief, a Municipal Court judge and Judicial Correction Services, Inc. for allegedly arresting and jailing poor people illegally in debtor’s prisons. The plaintiffs were arrested [press release] for failing to pay traffic fines and held in jail for up to seven days without a hearing and were not informed of their right to counsel. The ACLU argues that the detentions violate citizens’ rights under the Fourth Amendment to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures without probable cause and the Fourteenth Amendment right to hearings on the ability to pay, which was granted by the Supreme Court in 1983.

Although the US Supreme Court [official website] outlawed the practice of incarcerating people for court-imposed debts over 30 years ago, many local and state governments are still accused of jailing poor people in “debtors’ prisons.” The ACLU filed a lawsuit against Benton County [press release] in Washington earlier this month, claiming it unconstitutionally collects court-imposed debts. In March the ACLU filed a similar suit[press release] against DeKalb County in Georgia. In 2014 the Supreme Court of Ohio [official website] warned state judges to end the policy [JURIST report] of imprisoning people who are unable to pay court fines. The ACLU of Ohio had released a report [JURIST report] the previous year urging the Ohio Supreme Court to bring an end to the debtors’ prisons.

2 Former Mississippi Officials Plead Guilty in a Graft Case Involving Private Prisons

Christopher B. Epps, the former head of Mississippi’s prison system, in Jackson on Wednesday.

Christopher B. Epps, the former head of Mississippi’s prison system, in Jackson on Wednesday.

From New York Times

Two former Mississippi officials, including the head of the prison system, pleaded guilty to corruption charges on Wednesday amid a federal inquiry that rattled the state’s government and raised new questions about its use of private prisons.

The guilty pleas, entered in Federal District Court in Jackson, came nearly four months after the authorities announced a 49-count indictment that named Christopher B. Epps, the former commissioner of the Department of Corrections, and Cecil McCrory, a onetime state lawmaker who had become involved with the private prisons industry.

In the indictment, which formed the basis of Wednesday’s pleas, federal prosecutors accused the men of a scheme in which Mr. McCrory directed more than $1 million to Mr. Epps, including cash and mortgage payments, in exchange for lucrative state contracts.

Mr. Epps pleaded guilty on Wednesday to money laundering conspiracy and filing a false tax return. Mr. McCrory pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy. (more…)

Conjugal Visits

teardownFrom The Marshall Project

Why they’re disappearing, which states still use them, and what really happens during those overnight visits.

Although conjugal, or “extended,” visits play a huge role in prison lore, in reality, very few inmates have access to them. Twenty years ago, 17 states offered these programs. Today, just four do: California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington. No federal prison offers extended, private visitation.

Last April, New Mexico became the latest state to cancel conjugal visits for prisoners after a local television station revealed that a convicted killer, Michael Guzman, had fathered four children with several different wives while in prison. Mississippi had made a similar decision in January 2014. (more…)

Free Alabama & Mississippi Movements in prisons & updates on Sean Swain

f-a-m-bwFrom The Final Straw

Streaming at AshevilleFM from 3am EST on February 2nd through February 8th, 2015, then podcasting at radio4all.net. Also airing this week on KOWA-LPFM in Olympia, WA, KWTF in Bodega Bay, CA, KXCF in Marshall, CA, and WCRS-LP Columbus Community Radio 98.3 and 102.1 FM

Prior to the main portion of this week’s episode, we hear a Sean Swain segment and also Ben Turk comes on to talk about difficulties Sean’s currently facing (for instance beginning a hunger strike on Monday due to shenanigans by officials at OSP, where Sean is being held, and possibly JPAY (the company that contracts communication with Ohio’s DRC) that have limited his communications again.
It is suggested that folks concerned called the boss of the ODRC Lead Council Trevor Clark’s boss (Stephen Grey 614 752 1765). More on this can be found here.

The majority of this week’s episode is a conversation with incarcerated members of the Free Alabama & Mississippi Movements. The FAMMC (now including inmates in California as well) is an inmate-drive non-violent, civil disobedience movement with the goal of bettering the situations of prisoners, challenging the profits of prison corporations and departments of correction, ending the impunity of wardens and guards and abolishing the “new slavery” of mass incarceration in the U.S.

(more…)

Mississippi: Prison health faces poor quality accusations

View from the door at blood on the floor at East Mississippi Correctional Facility where a mentally ill inmate had cut himself.

View from the door at blood on the floor at East Mississippi Correctional Facility where a mentally ill inmate had cut himself.

From Corporate Media

State corrections officials disregarded risk to the health and safety of young prisoners at the Walnut Grove prison, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves concluded in a scathing March 22, 2012, report on the then GEO Group-run facility.

The sum of “these actions and inactions” by those officials, GEO and Health Assurance, which was contracted to provide medical and mental health care, “paints a picture of such horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world,” he wrote.

Despite these words, the Mississippi Department of Corrections gave Health Assurance a contract to provide health care at East Mississippi Correctional Facility, paying the company $12 million over the past three years, according to state records.

In a lawsuit filed against MDOC in September, the ACLU called conditions at East Mississippi barbaric with a “callous denial of prisoners’ serious medical and mental health needs.” (more…)

Former Chief of Prisons in Mississippi, Is Arraigned On Corruption Charges

mississippicorruptionFrom New York Times

Christopher B. Epps, a former state corrections commissioner in Mississippi, was arraigned in federal court on Thursday on charges of participating in a corruption scheme in which he received nearly a million dollars from a contractor who paid off Mr. Epps’s home mortgage and helped him buy a beach condominium.

A 49-count federal indictment unsealed Thursday documents a complex conspiracy dating to 2007 in which Mr. Epps is accused of receiving dozens of bribes totaling as much as $900,000 in exchange for directing lucrative state prison contracts to firms connected to Cecil McCrory, a local businessman and former state legislator. Both men pleaded not guilty Thursday before a federal magistrate in Jackson, Miss.

The indictment says that Mr. McCrory operated several companies that had contracts with the state, including for prison administration, commissary services and evaluating Medicaid eligibility across the state prison system. (more…)

Mothers Behind Bars

An exterior view of The Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women, in Wetumpka, Ala., Feb. 6, 2014. Corrections officers have raped, beaten and harrassed women inside the prison for at least 18 years, according to a Justice Department investigation, but the appetite for costly reform in Alabama appears minimal as conditions remain bad and prisoners are still fearful despite the investigation.

An exterior view of The Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women, in Wetumpka, Ala., Feb. 6, 2014. Corrections officers have raped, beaten and harrassed women inside the prison for at least 18 years, according to a Justice Department investigation. 

By Samantha Sarra/ From Truth Out 

For mothers behind bars, the prison walls are held up with patriarchy, racism and poverty. Injustice is the mortar that holds together the bricks of the prison industrial complex and the handcuffs worn by female inmates are still tightly linked to the shackles of slavery and oppression.

A law passed by the New Jersey Legislature in February 1804 declared the children born to slave mothers to be “free” at birth, but they still remained bound as servants to their mother’s owners until their 20s. Two hundred years later and true abolition has yet to take place with the continued racialized criminalization of poverty and mothers behind bars, whose children remain bound to generational cycles of trauma and discrimination.

The legacy of children being entangled in the repercussions of legislation continues as Republican Governor Bill Haslam passed a law last month in Tennessee criminalizing women for their pregnancy outcomes. The law, which will disproportionately affect already marginalized mothers, would make it a crime to carry a pregnancy to term if you struggle with addiction or substance abuse. The punitive prosecution of pregnant mothers, charging them with criminal assault rather than creating better access to health care, was a move opposed by major medical associations, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the American Civil Liberties Union. (more…)

In States That “Reduce” Their Use of Solitary Confinement, Suffering Continues for Those Left Behind

tapley-supermax-photo-300x198From Solitary Watch

Under pressure from activists, lawsuits, and even a few reformers within the corrections system, several states have significantly reduced the number of people they hold in solitary confinement in their prison systems. These reductions, achieved largely through “reclassifying” prisoners and returning the least troublesome ones to the general population, have rightly been celebrated by opponents of solitary confinement.

In recent months, however, reports by organizations and investigative journalists have documented what happens to those who remain behind when the use of solitary is “reduced” rather than eliminated. In doing so, they show the pitfalls involved in opposing the “overuse” of solitary, rather than confronting all extreme isolation as torture. (more…)

The Messy Link Between Slave Owners and Modern Management

resisting_slaveryFrom Forbes

While studying the history of business practices, HBS researcher Caitlin Rosenthal made a startling discovery:  Many of the techniques pioneered by slave owners in the 1800s are widely used in business management today.  Rosenthal discusses her findings in this story by Katie Johnston, which first appeared on the HBS Working Knowledge website.

Caitlin C. Rosenthal didn’t intend to write a book about slavery. She set out to tackle something much more mundane: the history of business practices. But when she started researching account books from the mid-1800s, a period of major economic development during the rise of industrialization in the United States, Rosenthal stumbled across an unexpected source of innovation.

Rosenthal, a Harvard-Newcomen Fellow in business history at Harvard Business School, found that southern plantation owners kept complex and meticulous records, measuring the productivity of their slaves and carefully monitoring their profits—often using even more sophisticated methods than manufacturers in the North. Several of the slave owners’ practices, such as incentivizing workers (in this case, to get them to pick more cotton) and depreciating their worth through the years, are widely used in business management today.

As fascinating as her findings were, Rosenthal had some misgivings about their implications. She didn’t want to be perceived as saying something positive about slavery. On the contrary, she sees her research as a critique of capitalism—one that could broaden the understanding of today’s business practices. (more…)

Plea change hearing set in Miss. prison riot case

mississippi riotFrom Capitalist Media

NATCHEZ, Miss. — A change of plea hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 19 for an inmate charged with participating in a deadly prison riot in Mississippi.

One guard was killed and 20 people were injured in the May 20, 2012, riot at the privately-run Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, which holds immigrants convicted of crimes while being in the U.S. illegally.

A court filing said the plea change hearing in U.S. District Court in Natchez is for Jesus Beltran-Rodriguez, who had earlier pleaded not guilty.

Court records said Beltran-Rodriguez is one of the inmates suspected of beating the guard, Catlin Carithers, who died. (more…)