Dockery v. Epps
The ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Law Offices of Elizabeth Alexander filed a petition for class certification and expert reports for a federal lawsuit on behalf of prisoners at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF). The lawsuit, which was filed in May 2013, describes the for-profit prison as hyper-violent, grotesquely filthy and dangerous. EMCF is operated "in a perpetual state of crisis" where prisoners are at "grave risk of death and loss of limbs." The facility, located in Meridian, Mississippi, is supposed to provide intensive treatment to the state's prisoners with serious psychiatric disabilities, many of whom are locked down in long-term solitary confinement.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections, which ultimately bears responsibility for the unconstitutional conditions at ECMF, has known about these conditions for years but failed to protect the health and safety of prisoners.
EMCF is a cesspool. Prisoners are underfed and routinely held in cells that are infested with rats and have no working toilets or lights. Although designated as a facility to care for prisoners with special needs and serious psychiatric disabilities, ECMF denies prisoners even the most rudimentary mental health care services. Many prisoners have attempted to commit suicide; some have succeeded. One prisoner is now legally blind after EMCF failed to provide his glaucoma medications and take him to a specialist, and another had part of his finger amputated after he was stabbed and developed gangrene.
The facility is dangerously understaffed, and prisoners routinely set fires to attract the attention of officers to respond to emergencies. Without sufficient staff to protect prisoners from violence, rapes, stabbings, and gang violence are rampant.
In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center offered to pay for an assessment of the system last year, but Mississippi Department of Corrections rejected our offer.
Christopher Lindsey, on a typical day at EMCF, woke up at 6 a.m. and tried to make his way through the next 16 hours without getting beaten or robbed. The task is made harder because for years, Christopher was denied the eye drops he had used all his life.
Kenji Hobbes was released from EMCF just over a year ago. His mother, Cynthia Hobbes, does not know exactly what happened to her son; the prison's medical records are inconclusive. "But I do know that when my son left he was a normal man, and when he came back he was not," Cynthia said.
Willie Hughes says he survived EMCF because of luck and his family. "It's a nightmare on Elm Street, but it's for real," he said. Before his release in 2013, Willie saw an active trade in weapons, drugs and alcohol at EMCF.
Captain Naidow, a shift captain at EMCF, said that sometimes the cell blocks look like something out of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," with prisoners banging their heads against the walls, self-mutilation, and hallucinating.
The ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Law Offices of Elizabeth Alexander filed a federal lawsuit in May 2013 on behalf of prisoners at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF), describing the for-profit prison as hyper-violent, grotesquely filthy and dangerous.