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DOJ probes 2 SC jails for inmate deaths, assaults.

The Department of Justice Investigates Inmate‌ Deaths and Assaults at South Carolina Detention Centers

The Department of Justice has launched investigations into ⁢conditions at ⁢two detention centers in ⁣South Carolina,⁢ citing​ “credible‍ allegations” of inmate deaths and assaults. The DOJ ‍announced on November 2 that ⁤it would be opening separate probes‌ into the Sheriff Al Cannon‌ Detention Center in North Charleston and the Alvin⁢ S. Glenn Detention Center ⁢in Columbia.

Both jails are individually funded.

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Officials stated that‌ they had found “significant ‌justification” to launch the investigations after ‌conducting an extensive review of publicly​ available information and information gathered from stakeholders.

The department received credible reports ‍of inmate deaths ⁣at the ​Sheriff Al Cannon ‍Detention Center due to the “use of force, gross medical neglect, or suicide.”

The DOJ also received credible allegations ⁣of unsafe ⁤conditions, sexual assaults,⁤ homicides, ⁣and prevalent violence resulting in serious injuries at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

“People confined in local jails across our country‍ do not abandon their civil and constitutional‍ rights at the jailhouse door,” said ‌Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the DOJ’s Civil Rights ⁤Division.

“We are ‌launching these investigations ⁢to determine whether the ⁣jail conditions in ​two of‌ South Carolina’s largest counties comply with basic⁣ constitutional ⁤standards. We are committed to ensuring that ‌people held inside jails‍ and ‌prisons are not subjected to excessive force, violent conditions, inadequate⁢ medical and mental health care, and other dangerous physical conditions while in the custody of their local government,” she​ added.

Razor wire tops ‌a fence at a U.S. prison on‍ Oct. ⁣22, 2016. (John Moore/Getty⁣ Images)

High-Profile Deaths

The probe into the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center will focus on the medical‌ and mental health care available for inmates, the use of‌ solitary ⁤confinement, and the use of force by staff. It will ‍also ​examine whether the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office discriminates against ⁢disabled individuals inside the detention​ center.

The probe‌ into ​the Alvin S. Glenn ‌Detention Center will focus on living conditions and whether the detention center fails‌ to protect prisoners from violence.

Both detention centers have pledged to cooperate with the investigations, the‍ DOJ said.

The investigations follow the high-profile death of ‌an ⁤inmate at Sheriff Al Cannon⁤ Detention Center in 2021. Former inmate Jamal Sutherland, who​ was mentally ​ill, died after jail staff‌ repeatedly shot him⁢ with stun guns and pepper sprayed him when ⁣he refused to leave‌ his cell and attend a bail hearing, according to prosecutors.⁢ Mr. Sutherland had been jailed following an incident at a behavioral health center on Jan. 4, during which he committed “a misdemeanor offense ‌of simple assault on a nurse staff member” ⁤prosecutors said. Two sheriff’s ⁣deputies in South Carolina were later fired over his death but no ‌charges were pressed.

At ⁣a press hearing Thursday, Ms. Clarke said there have been ⁤eight deaths among inmates⁢ at the Charleston jail since 2022 and six known ⁢deaths among⁤ inmates⁤ at‌ the Columbia jail since February ⁢2022. She also mentioned the death of​ another⁢ inmate, D’Angelo Brown,⁣ who died in December 2022 ‍from severe dehydration ⁣after ⁢being⁢ placed in isolation for‍ months at‍ the Charleston County jail’s mental health unit.

The U.S. Department of ‍Justice in ⁢Washington ⁢is seen⁢ on June​ 20, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Escapes, Inmate Stabbings

Medical staff allegedly failed to ⁤give Mr. Brown—who was also suffering ‍from ⁣mental health issues—his​ prescribed psychiatric medications, which⁤ caused​ him to “decompensate severely,” she ⁣said.

“Brown was subsequently deemed not mentally competent to stand trial due to‍ psychosis. Brown remained at the​ detention center, ⁣reportedly in the same‍ neglectful conditions,⁣ until staff found him‌ unconscious in his ⁣cell. He⁣ died ‍eight days later at an outside hospital. The county coroner has‍ attributed Brown’s death ⁣to ‘gross ⁤medical neglect’ and ruled his‌ death a homicide,” Ms. Clarke said.

In addition to the inmate deaths, there have also been at ⁢least two escapes and 16‌ confirmed reports of‍ stabbings or ⁤other acts of violence at prisons, ⁢and two alleged rapes, according to the‍ department’s initial assessment. Nine inmates were also reportedly injured in violent incidents at the detention‌ center in May and June 2023 alone, the DOJ ⁤noted.

The DOJ stressed that it ⁣has not yet reached any conclusions ‍regarding the allegations made against the two​ prisons.

However,‌ Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano released a ⁤statement Thursday ⁣afternoon in response to the department’s⁤ announcement in which she said the “allegation that we have ‌been anything but transparent⁤ is categorically false.”

“I welcome the announcement of the DOJ investigation. Any member of the public – including those same elected officials who called for the investigation – is always welcome⁤ to ask ​questions and to come see ⁢the great work we‌ are doing at the Charleston County Detention Center,” she ⁣added.

Elsewhere, officials in Richland County, which oversees the detention center in Columbia,⁤ acknowledged the need⁤ to address various ‌issues‌ at the⁢ facility and told reporters⁢ they had already begun to implement changes, ⁣The New York Times reported.

Reuters contributed to this report.

What incidents ‍have occurred in South Carolina detention centers that have prompted investigations by the Department ‍of Justice?

⁣ Rapidly,”​ according to a lawsuit ‌filed by his family.

In addition to the inmate deaths, the South ⁤Carolina detention centers ‌have also ⁣faced ​other‌ serious incidents. In May 2022,⁢ inmates escaped from the Alvin S. Glenn ‍Detention Center, leading to a manhunt. And‍ in August‌ 2022, two inmates were stabbed during a fight at‍ the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention ‍Center.

The investigations by the Department of Justice ⁤are aimed at ensuring that the rights of inmates are protected and that the detention‍ centers⁢ are in compliance with constitutional standards. The DOJ‌ has the authority to⁤ take legal action if⁤ violations are found.

These investigations highlight the importance of ​holding correctional facilities accountable⁢ for the treatment of⁢ inmates and the conditions in which they are held. It is crucial that inmates, regardless of their offenses, are ​treated with​ dignity and provided with adequate medical care, mental health‌ support, and protection from violence.

While these investigations ⁢are⁢ specific to South Carolina, it is a reminder ‌of the need for ongoing oversight and monitoring of detention centers across the country. Incidents of inmate deaths, assaults, and unsafe‍ conditions have⁤ been reported in various states, ‌emphasizing the systemic issues that​ need to be addressed.

The Department of‌ Justice plays a ⁤vital role in‍ ensuring that the rights of individuals in custody are protected and ‌that correctional facilities are held accountable ⁤for any ‍violations. It is ⁢essential for⁣ the DOJ’s investigations to be thorough,⁤ transparent, and impartial in order to bring about meaningful change and improvements ⁤to the conditions in these detention⁣ centers.

By ‍investigating the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center and the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, the Department of Justice is⁤ sending​ a clear message that it will not tolerate the mistreatment of ‌inmates and ⁣will take action where necessary. The results⁢ of⁤ these investigations will hopefully lead to reforms that prioritize the safety, well-being, and constitutional rights of inmates.

Overall, it is imperative that the⁢ public and the justice system remain vigilant in holding detention centers accountable to ​ensure humane and constitutional treatment⁢ of all individuals in​ custody.



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