GEORGIA — Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke announced Tuesday that the Justice Department will launch an investigation on Georgia prisons due to the rising amount of deaths of prison inmates. The comprehensive investigation will examine violence against inmates, and sexual abuse targeting LGBTQ prisoners by both other prisoners and staff.
“We have been looking at Georgia prisons for years, and while I can’t comment on the status of an open investigation we’re continuing work that we initiated back in 2016. Our investigation is based on publicly available information,” says Clarke. She expresses that family members and civil rights organizations have raised concerns.
AAG Clarke noted that there were 26 homicides in Georgia prisons last year, and 18 so far this year.
“Reports of countless other violent assaults including stabbings and beatings also have emerged from Georgia prisons,” Clarke says. She mentioned a riot in one facility in 2020, and how leaked photos from the incident are now evidence that shows the use of illegal contraband and gang activity behind bars.
The assistant attorney general also says that understaffing and staff turnover is an acute problem in prisons around Georgia. “Without adequate policies, training, and staff accountability, people in prisons and jails are also at risk of abuse from staff, sexual misconduct, and use of excessive force,” says Clarke.
She also mentions the involvement of the federal government to find solutions for the state if the investigation uncovers systematic problems.“Individuals sentenced to prison in Georgia Department of Corrections facilities deserve to be treated humanely,” says Kurt Erskine, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. He adds, “No prison term should include becoming the target of violence while behind bars.”
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