18 Mar Court Orders MDOC to Disclose Records to Journalists Investigating Private Prison Corruption in Mississippi
March 18, 2021 – Last week, Hinds County Chancery Court Judge Crystal Wise Martin ordered the disclosure of contract monitoring reports and responses to those reports requested more than one year ago by investigative journalists at The Marshall Project. The documents concern three Mississippi prisons managed by Management & Training Corporation (MTC) for the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC): East Mississippi Correctional Facility, Marshall County Correctional Facility and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility. The Marshall Project is represented by the Mississippi Center for Justice through the George Riley Impact Litigation Initiative.
For more than a year, The Marshall Project has been seeking these records as part of an ongoing investigation of Mississippi’s use of private contractors to manage prison facilities. A recent story highlighted MTC’s pattern of billing MDOC for the cost of “no-show” prison workers that may have cost Mississippi taxpayers millions of dollars. A previous story revealed that MTC allowed prison gangs to run the Wilkinson prison. In last week’s ruling, Judge Martin held that MDOC’s attempts to withhold the information sought by The Marshall Project from the documents violated the Mississippi Public Records Act. She granted The Marshall Project’s motion to require disclosure of the contract monitoring reports and responses to those reports with limited redactions of names and personal information of incarcerated people and guards.
Susan Chira, Editor in Chief of The Marshall Project said, “We are thankful that the Court agreed that these monitoring reports should be fully produced. We look forward to continuing our investigation–the people of Mississippi deserve to know how their prisons are being run.”
“While Commissioner Cain is promoting greater transparency at MDOC, the pattern of secrecy from years past continued in this case,” said Rob McDuff of MCJ, who represents The Marshall Project in the case. “MDOC dodged and delayed providing the information in these documents for over a year even though the Public Records Act required it and the public is entitled to it. Hopefully, MDOC will do better in the future.”
The case is Management & Training Corporation v. Mississippi Department of Corrections and the Marshall Project, Case 25CH1:20-cv-0856. Read the order here.