Lawyer: Mississippi can’t ignore feds’ prison investigation

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — An attorney who has seen conditions inside Mississippi prisons says lawmakers need to improve lockups that are crowded, shabby and violent.

Cliff Johnson is director of the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi law school.

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He said Thursday that state officials need to act soon.

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the Mississippi prison system after a string of inmate deaths in recent months.

Johnson says Mississippi needs to show it is serious about trying to fix problems. More than two dozen protesters wore black tape over their mouths.

They said that symbolizes state officials’ unwillingness to hear prisoners’ voices.