A state prison in Mississippi is over-crawling with rats, and civil rights lawyers are suing the state over it — call it Master Splinter’s revenge. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Corrections for their East Mississippi Correctional Facility for mentally ill inmates in Meridian, a city that’s also crawling with civil rights violations in its schools and police department.
Ryan Nave at Jackson Free Press reports that the rat infestation is so bad there, "that some of the prisoners have adopted the disease-carrying vermin as pets, sometimes taking them on walks around the prison on leashes fashioned of paper clips and string."
Writes Nave about the complaint:
"The complaint details numerous claims, including broken plumbing systems that result in people sometimes having to defecate in trash bags or food. It charges that chronic understaffing often leads to prisoner-on-prisoner altercations and rapes, as well as excessive use of force by corrections officers."
SPLC’s lawsuit against horrendous prison conditions in New Orleans led to a federal consent decree agreement reached in December. Under that agreement, a new prison currently being built in New Orleans is expected to enforce a number of reforms to improve conditions for inmates, including mental health and language translation services. SPLC recently asked a U.S. District Judge to review the new prison design to make sure it complies with that consent decree’s requirements.