Justice Department Says Newport Prisons Unconstitutional

December 3, 2003 - Posted at 1:28 p.m. CDT

NEWPORT, AR - The Federal Justice Department said today that conditions at the McPherson women's prison and the Grimes' men's prison in Newport are unconstitutional.

In particular, the department says, the two state prisons do not provide adequate medical attention to prisoners suffering from serious medical conditions.

The department says both prisons demonstrate "deliberate indifference toward the serious medical needs of inmates."  For example, one prisoner who recently had open-heart surgery was given Tylenol and sent back to his cell after he complained of chest pains.

In addition, the department said, the prisons failed to adequately protect inmates from physical harm and sexual misconduct.

The findings are the result of an investigation conducted by the department's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arkansas.

The division's Assistant Attorney General Alexander Acosta says he is confident the state will correct the problem.

A prisons spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)