U.S. Justice Dept launches sweeping probe into violence in Georgia prisons

The headquarters of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C., Might 10,

The headquarters of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C., Might 10, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

WASHINGTON, Sept 14 (Reuters) – The U.S. Office of Justice on Tuesday introduced a statewide civil investigation into Georgia’s prisons, focusing on prisoner-on-prisoner violence and irrespective of whether the point out is violating inmates’ constitutional rights by failing to sufficiently shield them.

Assistant Legal professional Basic Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division stated at a information conference that the section would analyze regardless of whether Georgia was adequately defending prisoners’ constitutional legal rights and would notify the state of its results, and function to apply any needed reforms.

The section previously released an investigation into sexual violence versus lesbian, homosexual and transgender inmates at the hands of team and other prisoners. That probe stays ongoing, Clarke reported.

“No prisoner’s sentence need to contain violence at the arms of other prisoners although driving bars,” she instructed reporters, citing experiences of prisoner deaths powering bars and a important riot at one facility past yr.

“Our investigation will examine no matter if the condition of Georgia sufficiently protects prisoners held at the near and medium security levels from physical harm at the arms of other prisoners as necessary by the Eighth Modification,” Clarke stated.

Democratic Senator Jon Ossoff of Ga lauded the probe on Tuesday, noting he experienced previously raised worries with U.S. Lawyer Typical Merrick Garland about disorders at the state’s prisons, including the remedy of inmates at the South Fulton Jail.

“Conditions of incarceration in Georgia are unacceptable, and I will carry on to generate the attention and assets of the federal authorities toward remedies and accountability,” he explained in a statement.

The probe marks the most recent in a series of civil legal rights investigations the division has released into condition and local prisons in the latest years.

In August, the division introduced it experienced attained a consent decree with New Jersey to resolve claims that the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Gals experienced violated the Constitution by failing to protect prisoners from sexual abuse by workers.

The investigation in Georgia was sparked by grievances from civil rights companies and other folks who have raised concerns about prisoner safety there, Clarke mentioned.

In 2020, at the very least 26 prisoners died in Georgia prisons by verified or suspected murder, and 18 have died so considerably in 2021, she mentioned, introducing that footage has been leaked on social media about contraband, weapons and violence in the prisons, and that relatives associates and civil legal rights teams have also lifted issues.

“The Justice Department is committed to searching for to handle the devastating consequences of prison personnel shortages, inadequate policies and schooling, and the lack of accountability,” Clarke stated, noting that understaffing is a “notably acute problem.”

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Susan Heavey Modifying by Invoice Berkrot

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