The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division announced today that it is joining Harrison County, Mississippi, to seek dismissal of a longstanding consent decree designed to improve conditions in the Harrison County Adult Detention Center. If the U.S. District Court grants the parties’ joint motion, it will end federal compliance monitoring and return oversight of the facility back to the county.
“Harrison County officials have worked to improve conditions in the Harrison County Adult Detention Center,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “Security, medical, and mental health staffing have all been substantially increased, staff members are better trained, and internal quality assurance mechanisms are now in place. We have therefore joined the county in seeking final dismissal of the settlement in this case, and we commend the county for making these necessary, widespread reforms.”
“The county’s actions have given the Department of Justice reason to expect that it will continue to be diligent in maintaining compliance with the Constitution,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis of the Southern District of Mississippi. “The actions today demonstrate how cooperation with the department on civil rights matters can improve safety for prisoners, staff, and the community.”
The department’s decision follows nearly 20 years of enforcing a 1995 consent judgment, including through on-site inspections, document reviews and stakeholder interviews by department experts and staff.
This case was brought under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), which authorizes the department to seek a remedy for a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the constitutional rights of persons confined in a jail, prison or other correctional facility.