DOJ opens civil rights probe of Georgia prisons, will eye violence towards inmates, LGBTQ prisoners

On this Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 file picture, an unidentified prisoner on dying row stands in his cell on the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Jail, in Jackson, Ga.

David Goldman | AP

The U.S. Division of Justice on Tuesday stated it’s opening a statewide civil rights investigation of prisons in Georgia, with a concentrate on hurt towards inmates by different prisoners, and the concentrating on of LGBTQ inmates for sexual violence by prisoners and employees.

The probe comes as prisons in Georgia noticed not less than 26 folks in prisons there dying from confirmed or suspected homicides in 2020, 18 such circumstances this 12 months, and “reviews of numerous different assaults,” stated Assistant Lawyer Basic Kristen Clarke, the pinnacle of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.

She additionally cited a significant riot in a single jail final 12 months, and disturbances elsewhere in Georgia’s correctional system.

Clarke stated the investigation was motivated by complaints by inmates, relations, and different “stakeholders” corresponding to advocacy teams, in addition to by “an intensive evaluation of publicly out there info,” together with leaked photographs exhibiting gang exercise in prisons there.

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“We did discover ample justification to open this investigation,” stated Clarke, who spoke at a Zoom press convention with the performing U.S. attorneys who head prosecutors’ places of work in all three of Georgia’s federal districts.

Clarke stated the probe will study whether or not Georgia prisons are violating the eighth Modification rights of their inmates. That constitutional modification bars authorities authorities from imposing “merciless and strange punishments” on prisoners.

“It is a prime precedence for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Division: making certain lawful and humane situations in our nation’s jails,” she stated.

Clarke stated that excessive staffing shortages and excessive turnover amongst correctional officers “are persistent issues in Georgia.”

She famous that “with out ample supervision” by jail employees, inmates are at elevated danger of harming or killing themselves.

However, Clarke added, “We have drawn no conclusions but. This investigation will permit us to go in and examine the details.”

Clarke stated that if the group of investigators determines violations by Georgia’s jail system, “we are going to work with the state to work on mutually acceptable options.”

She stated the DOJ has “been Georgia prisons for years.”

“We opened an investigation in 2016. And whereas I can not touch upon the standing of an open investigation, we’re persevering with the work that we initiated,” Clarke stated.

That prior investigation was eyeing the remedy of homosexual and transgender inmates in Georgia’s correction establishments.

That probe was the primary DOJ probe to concentrate on LGBT inmates.

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