Inmates say East Mississippi prison is unsanitary, unhealthy

A Mississippi state prison has unsanitary conditions, is inadequately staffed and provides insufficient health care, three inmates testified in federal court Friday.

Posted: Mar 10, 2018 5:44 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi state prison has unsanitary conditions, is inadequately staffed and provides insufficient health care, three inmates testified in federal court Friday.

In its federal suit against the state of Mississippi, the American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Poverty Law Center argue that the state has been aware of East Mississippi Correctional Facility's unconstitutionally abusive conditions. The state's defense attorneys argue that the prison conditions are acceptable and some of the prison's ailments can be attributed to inmates' self-sabotage.

The prison near Meridian is privately operated under contract by Utah-based Management and Training Corp.

All three prisoners described instances of failing plumbing, such as sewage backups that caused feces to seep through shower and cell drains, or broken, unusable cell toilets. Inmate Terry Beasley said at one point, the water in his cell's sink ran black.

The inmates also described periods where the electricity failed and lights in their cells would go out - sometimes for weeks at a time.

Defense attorneys said these instances could be attributed to the inmates, saying they "tear up" the facilities. And when there were maintenance problems, they said EMCF sends maintenance workers to address them.

According to the testimony, the unsanitary conditions extended into the prison's food facilities. Eddie Pugh, who worked in the kitchen for nearly a year, described it as "nasty," saying he could point out hundreds of roaches in the kitchen at any given time. And when making repairs in the kitchen, inmate and maintenance worker Saul Mata said he saw roaches and mouse droppings.

Defense attorneys argued that Pugh worked in the kitchen back in 2015 and the conditions could be different now, and that the prison has passed its state health inspections.

Each inmate also testified that guards did not consistently monitor their cellblocks. According to the inmates, guards make counts once every 30 to 40 minutes during the day, then leave the inmates unmonitored. In emergency situations, the inmates said it is difficult to get officers' attention.

Beasley, who works as a porter in the prison, said a common way for prisoners to try to get officers' attention was to start a fire within their cell, or cut themselves and stick their bleeding arms out of the tray slots in their doors.

In one instance, Beasley said he saw an inmate die after bleeding out on his cell floor. A guard did not respond until after inmates were banging on the door of the cellblock to get his attention.

Beasley said he has diabetes, and if his sugar drops too low, he can go into shock and eventually die. When asked by prosecutors how it makes him feel to know that officers can take this long to respond in the event of a medical emergency, Beasley began crying and answered, "It's scary."

Pugh said he has Crohn's Disease. Sometimes, he said, prison nurses forget to order refills of his medication and he can go without it for weeks at a time.

When asked what he does in this situation, Pugh said, "be in agony."

In each of the inmates' cross-examination, defense attorneys noted the inmates' mental illness diagnoses and their convictions.

The trial is estimated to take up to six weeks and will resume Monday.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 68293

Reported Deaths: 1944
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5656118
DeSoto368031
Harrison253036
Madison244368
Rankin229235
Jackson228843
Jones191659
Forrest182056
Washington168942
Lee147941
Lauderdale141192
Neshoba128692
Lamar122614
Oktibbeha112739
Bolivar111834
Warren109533
Lowndes108538
Panola106214
Sunflower105425
Scott100320
Lafayette98317
Copiah95728
Leflore94765
Pike93836
Holmes90049
Grenada84921
Yazoo83312
Lincoln83241
Pontotoc8308
Simpson80330
Monroe80155
Leake79025
Wayne77421
Coahoma77213
Tate73629
Marshall7019
Marion68420
Union64316
Adams62925
Winston62316
Covington62113
George5895
Pearl River55439
Newton54311
Tallahatchie53011
Attala52325
Walthall50120
Chickasaw47019
Noxubee45912
Alcorn4345
Tishomingo4216
Calhoun4209
Prentiss41710
Claiborne40913
Smith40613
Clay39714
Hancock39514
Jasper3889
Itawamba37510
Tippah36713
Tunica3517
Clarke32626
Montgomery3265
Lawrence3228
Yalobusha31510
Humphreys29411
Quitman2701
Carroll26111
Greene25512
Perry2437
Amite2356
Webster23512
Kemper23414
Jefferson Davis2336
Wilkinson21113
Stone2055
Sharkey1995
Jefferson1957
Benton1431
Choctaw1354
Franklin1312
Issaquena262
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99926

Reported Deaths: 1781
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13258244
Mobile10517207
Montgomery6835149
Madison544734
Tuscaloosa423076
Baldwin365125
Unassigned363064
Shelby330936
Marshall318937
Lee270047
Morgan241118
Etowah216232
DeKalb183013
Calhoun180717
Elmore173138
Walker153964
Houston141912
Russell13872
St. Clair135418
Limestone134913
Dallas133123
Franklin128820
Cullman122712
Colbert120716
Lauderdale118919
Autauga117421
Escambia108717
Talladega104814
Jackson10144
Tallapoosa86579
Chambers84438
Dale83525
Clarke82610
Blount8124
Chilton8097
Butler76736
Coffee7646
Covington73720
Pike7087
Marion58026
Barbour5765
Lowndes57324
Marengo56515
Hale47826
Bullock46611
Winston45711
Perry4454
Washington44312
Bibb4425
Wilcox43210
Monroe4215
Pickens4049
Randolph40310
Conecuh39310
Sumter36418
Lawrence3512
Macon33914
Crenshaw3265
Choctaw28712
Cherokee2758
Henry2643
Clay2635
Geneva2631
Greene25211
Lamar2292
Fayette2125
Cleburne1271
Coosa1033
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