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Monitor warned about gang influence at Mississippi prison

A woman who monitored a privately-run prison for Mississippi officials told them in 2015 that gang members were "running things."

Posted: Mar 13, 2018 3:46 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A woman who monitored a privately-run prison for Mississippi officials told them in 2015 that gang members were "running things."

The Clarion Ledger reports that Vernell Thomas testified Tuesday in a lawsuit over conditions at East Mississippi Correctional Facility. She said gang influence was a problem at the time, but not now.

Lawyers representing inmates allege their clients face an unacceptable risk of violence at the prison near Meridian. State officials, though, have said that many of allegations are out-of-date and conditions have improved.

Other reports by Thomas detailed continuing problems with understaffing, cleanliness, lighting and leaving out mops and broomsticks that could be used as weapons.

A federal judge ordered members of the public to leave the courtroom for part of Tuesday's testimony, because it mentioned inmates by name.

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