The Southern Poverty Law Center sued the state of Mississippi in federal court to stop the physical and sexual abuse of teenage girls at the state’s Columbia Training School and compel the state to provide federally required mental health and rehabilitative treatment to girls confined there.
The SPLC suit exposed brutal conditions at the prison, including the painful shackling of girls for weeks at a time. One girl was choked by a guard. Another girl was groped and fondled while in isolation. Many of the girls at Columbia suffered from emotional problems or mental illness and needed mental health and rehabilitative services.
Seven months after filing the lawsuit, the state of Mississippi announced it would close the training school. State officials said they recognized the need to provide the best possible care and supervision of juveniles placed in state custody and the need to use taxpayer funds efficiently.