Mississippi Prison Abuse Described as Rampant, Horrific

Prison_AbuseA lawsuit was recently filed on behalf of East Mississippi Correctional Facility inmates, many of whom are seriously mentally ill.

The complaint charges that the conditions have “cost many prisoners their health, and their limbs, their eyesight, and even their lives,” according to The New York Times. The lawsuit also alleges that the “solitary confinement zones house dozens of seriously mentally ill prisoners who are locked down in filthy cells for days, weeks, or even years at a time”; that “rapes, stabbings, beatings, and other acts of violence are rampant”; and that inmates have resorted to arson as “the only way to get medical attention in emergencies,” according to The Times.

The lawsuit is, said The Times, is just the most recent in a debacle concerning horrific conditions in Mississippi prisons. Last year, in response to a lawsuit, Federal District Judge Carlton Reeves approved an agreement between Mississippi and the Justice Department to reform the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility. There, abuse allegations included that staff coerced prisoners for sex in exchange for food and phone privileges, physical abuse, and rape, according to The Times. The Justice Department report described the staff’s sexual misconduct and the rape at the facility as “among the worst that we have seen in any facility anywhere in the nation.”

Experts say the conditions at East Mississippi were worse than at Walnut Grove, with “an epidemic of suicide attempts, completed suicides and other self-injurious behavior,” The Times reported.

Under the federal Constitution, Mississippi must ensure every prisoner’s safety and well being; however, according to the Justice Department, Mississippi is “deliberately indifferent to the constitutional rights” of inmates who have been treated abysmally, according to The Times.

Meanwhile, the national law firm, Parker Waichman LLP, filed a lawsuit against the County of Nassau, the County of Nassau Correctional Center, Nassau County Sheriff’s Department, Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc., and Armor Correctional Health Services of New York, Inc., on behalf of Lillyann Ryan for the personal injuries and wrongful death of her son, Bartholomew Ryan.

Ryan, an Iraq war veteran, committed suicide by hanging last year while in the custody of the Nassau County Correctional Center in East Meadow, New York.

According to the complaint, Bartholomew Ryan, 32, was a former Marine who served one year in Al Taqaddum, Iraq. Bartholomew hanged himself with a noose made from a sheet just one day after being incarcerated at the Nassau County Correctional Center after being arrested on misdemeanor charges of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, and excessive speed. According to Ryan’s family, after Ryan returned from Iraq he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which led to his drug problem.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants neglected to properly monitor, supervise, and care for Ryan, despite knowing that he suffered from drug addiction and psychological diseases, specifically from PTSD. Among other things, the complaint alleges that the defendants also failed to properly intake Ryan into the correctional system and failed to place Ryan in a proper custodial setting, given his tendencies and inappropriate behavior. The complaint also alleges that the defendants did not transport Ryan in a reasonable time frame to obtain medical treatment and never administered accepted life-sustaining treatment in an emergent time frame after Ryan hanged himself.

The lawsuit cites civil rights violations and that these violations caused Ryan to be deprived of his basic civil rights, privileges, and immunities under a variety of constitutions, including the State of New York and the United States of America. Other violations of other state ordinances, statutes, codes, and rules were also cited.

Ryan’s death was the fifth suicide at the Nassau County’s jail in two years, according to Newsday. In fact, of the state’s 62 counties, Nassau County had the second highest number of inmate suicides since 2010.

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