By: Prof. Phil Broadhead
UM Clinical Programs Professor Cliff Johnson, Director of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Clinic (MJC), has announced a Settlement Agreement with the Mississippi Department of Corrections affecting the conditions on Mississippi State Penitentiary’s Death Row. The MJC, the latest addition to the ten UM Clinical Programs, is a public interest teaching program focusing on human rights and social justice, with goals of bringing significant change to Mississippi in issues involving pre-trial detention, capital punishment prosecutions, prison inmate housing and discrimination within the criminal justice system. The Settlement Agreement immediately improves the conditions of confinement on the Row, including basic everyday matters such as cleaning products, pest control and window screens. Substantial improvements in the inmate’s access to health care, family visitation, and treatment for mental illness are also addressed in the MJC’s Settlement Agreement.
Johnson said, “Very few lawyers have seen death row from the ‘inside,’ so this was a significant experience for all involved. I could not have been prouder of our students. They worked hard to prepare for the interviews. They acted professionally at all times, and they treated those they interviewed with respect and kindness.” Adjunct Professor Jake Howard and Johnson supervised the MJC students in the interviews last semester with the death row inmates at Parchman, which began the process of challenging and correcting the deplorable conditions on Death Row.