MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The conditions and practices found at the Mississippi State Penitentiary — commonly known as Parchman — violate both the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Department of Justice announced in a press release Wednesday.

The DOJ concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe the Mississippi routinely violates the constitutional rights of people who are incarcerated at Parchman by the following:

  • Failing to provide adequate mental health treatment to people with serious mental health concerns
  • Failing to make sufficient suicide prevention methods to protect those at risk for self harm
  • Subjecting people to prolonged isolation in solitary confinement in egregious condition that place their physical and mental health at substantial risk of serious harm
  • Failing to protect incarcerated people from violence at the hands of other incarcerated people

As a requirement of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), the DOJ has provided the state of Mississippi with a written report of their findings and the minimum remedial measures required for them to address in a 59-page letter. (See below)

“Mississippi violated the rights of persons incarcerated at Parchman by failing to keep them safe from physical violence and for failing to provide constitutionally adequate mental health care and that people confined to Parchman experience serious physical and psychological harm as a result,” U.S. Attorney Clay Joyner said.

According to the Department of Justice, this investigation started in February 2020 and is ongoing at other facilities in Mississippi.

“Our investigation uncovered evidence of systemic violations that have generated a violent and unsafe environment for people incarcerated at Parchman. We are committed to taking action that will ensure the safety of all people held at Parchman and other state prison facilities,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a press release.

“The action taken today by the Department of Justice will ensure that the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman fulfills its constitutional obligations,” said U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca in the press release.