Walnut Grove Youth Correction Center and Private Prison Company Sued on Behalf of Prisoners and theiBy Lawayne Childrey | Published 16 Nov 2010 01:07pm |
A Federal lawsuit claims inhumane conditions at Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility has left many youthful offenders physically abused and denied educational and medical services. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports on the efforts of the Southern Poverty Law Center and others to correct what they call injustice.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Federal Court in Jackson on behalf of 13 offenders including the teenage son of Billy Joy of New Albany.
"Some of em's sentences hinge on whether or not the get proper education and stuff and its kind a hard to get that if you are not permitted to go to class or if you're on lock down. But ah still their conditions need to be improved so they can come out and can fit in society."
The lawsuit which gives only one side of the legal argument alleges severe mistreatment by staff.
"Right now some of our clients are locked in their cells for weeks at a time.”
That’s Sheila Bedi, Deputy Legal Director with the Southern Poverty Law Center which helped file the suit.
“They are suffering horrific abuses at the hands of guards, getting beaten while they are handcuffed and lying on their backs. Getting sprayed with chemical restraints directly in their eyes. A host of abuses that show a pattern and practice of running an unconstitutional facility.”
While the teenagers imprisoned at Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility were convicted on adult crimes, Representative Earl Banks of Jackson doesn't believe their alleged abuse should be a part of their sentence.
“And I pledge to you as a lawmaker to do my part to insure that prison reform at this facility is quick and precise and that the young people in the facility are protected from harm and abuse.”
The facility is operated by Florida based GEO Group, which is named as a defendant along with Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps and state schools superintendent Tom Burnham. None of them were available for comment at the time this story was produced. Lawayne Childrey MPB News.
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