Lead Attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union Margaret Winter, told U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves, Walnut Grove Prison, in Leake County, is not safe for inmates or staff. She contends the operator, Management Training Company, has made few substantive changes since last year's two riots. Eldon Vail, a retired corrections expert, is monitoring the prison under a federal settlement. He testified that Walnut Grove is understaffed, guards are poorly trained, there's no emergency plan for violent outbreaks and no review of incidents. Attorney Winter.
"What we're saying is you've hired this for-profit prison contractor. You better monitor them. These prisoners are in your custody. They are in the state custody. If you want to hire an agent to run your prison, that's okay. But you can't get rid of your responsibility that way. You have to be watching them." said Winter.
Winter showed video of last year's July riot, which sent 16 inmates to the hospital. Prisoners chased guards out of a cell area and brutally attacked other inmates with a microwave oven, a broomstick and shanks. A guard released a gas grenade in the control booth instead of the cell area. Jeremy Tobin is with the Clergy for Prison Reform.
"They're doing it on the cheap. It's about profit. Then their saying well there's gang activity. If they had programs, something to do something with their minds instead of having them replicate the street in the prison. They could do a lot to dissipate that." said Tobin
Corrections Attorney Gary Freedman, says MTC reduced the number of inmates at the prison, and added body and package scanners. He says it's not the same place. The hearing ends Friday.