DOJ: 3 Mississippi prisons controlled by gangs – National & International News – THU 29Feb2024



DOJ: 3 Mississippi prisons controlled by gangs.

Congress moves to extend funding deadline again to avert shutdown.

Gaza: More than 100 killed after Israeli soldiers fire on civilians waiting for aid.



DOJ: 3 Mississippi prisons controlled by gangs

A report from the Department of Justice has found deplorable conditions in three Mississippi prisons, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility near Pearl in Rankin County, South Mississippi Correctional Institute near Leakesville in Greene County, and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility near Woodville. WCCF is privately-run while the other two are state-run.

The DOJ’s report finds that chronic understaffing has led to unsanitary and unsafe conditions for both inmates and staff. According to the report, gangs have free rein in the prisons, controlling aspects of prison life both large and small. Contraband also flows freely through the prisons and incidents of serious violence are not adequately investigated The three prisons currently house about 7,200 people.

In 2019, ProPublica reported on rampant violence and gang activity at SMCI here. The Marshall Project produced a similar profile of WCCF here, also in 2019. Both of these reports predate the beginning of the DOJ inquiry in 2020. The DOJ’s findings suggest that the dire conditions reported by ProPublica and the Marshall Project persisted at the prisons until at least 2022 when they concluded their investigation.

According to Assistant AG Kristen Clarke, who oversees the DOJ’s civil rights division, conditions at the three prisons violate inmates’ Constitutional rights. This includes inmates’ 14th Amendment Rights, guaranteeing equal protection under the law, and their Eighth Amendment rights, which forbids cruel and unusual punishment. Clarke said the DOJ is prepared to enforce Constitutional protections and to work with MDOC to remedy the problems identified. “Our work makes clear that people do not abandon their civil and constitutional rights at the jailhouse door,” Clarke said

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Congress moves to extend funding deadline again to avert shutdown

The House has passed a temporary stopgap measure to fund the federal government for another week and avert a partial government shutdown. Currently 6 of the spending authorizations are set to expire at midnight on Friday, including spending for federal transportation, housing, agriculture and veterans programs. Another set of spending authorizations are set to expire on March 8, including funding for the Pentagon. The House bill would extend the first deadline to March 8 and the second to March 22. The bill has now gone to the Senate for a vote.

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Gaza: More than 100 killed after Israeli soldiers fire on civilians waiting for aid

Northern Gaza has seen little in the way of food or other humanitarian aid for the past two months. At least 300,000 Palestinians have remained in the North despite orders from Israeli Defense Forces to evacuate South. The estimated 1.5 million who did evacuate are faring little better in the South, so many decided to take their chances closer to their own homes.

Earlier this week, the UN reported that Israel is intentionally starving Gaza’s 2.3 million civilians, half of whom are children. For the last two months, people in the North have been living off of weeds and animal feed. The World Food Program recently announced it was halting aid to Northern Gazadue to a breakdown in civil order. The IDF has also fired on food trucks headed north.

A similar scenario seems to have taken place last night as thousands of people crowded around an aid convoy to receive food. Gaza’s Ministry of Health says 112 were killed and over 700 injured. Reports from survivors and wounded indicate that the IDF opened fired on the crowd, killing and wounding several people. Then the crowd approached the aid convoy again and the IDF fired on the crowd again. Spooked by the shooting, the aid trucks then took off, apparently running over several people. 

Israel’s explanations of what happened are conflicting. One claim was that the IDF soldiers fired on hungry civilians who they said “posed a threat”. Then another claim that the deaths were caused by trampling and the trucks running over people who had surrounded them. They now they claim that both things had occurred but in separate incidents. The conflicting reports have Israel’s allies in the US scrambling to understand what happened.


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