Georgia prisons deny infringing on civil rights as the Department of Justice investigates 44 deaths.
In the wake of the Justice Department’s statement on Tuesday that it will open a statewide civil investigation into Georgia’s jail conditions, the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) denied committing civil rights violations.
Following a press release from the Department of Justice stating that it will investigate whether Georgia’s prison facilities provide adequate protection for their incarcerated population from other inmates, and that the DOJ will also continue its existing investigation into whether Georgia provides lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex prisoners with reasonable protection from sexual abuse by other inmates,
“The GDC is committed to the safety of all offenders in its custody and rejects that it has participated in a pattern or practice of breaching their civil rights or failing to safeguard them from violence-related harm,” according to the statement. “As part of this promise, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) prisoners will be protected against sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. We completely cooperated with the USDOJ’s initial inquiry in 2016 and are proud of our team’s devotion and determination to perform amid extraordinary obstacles since then.”
The case is looking into any systemic human rights breaches and how they may be stopped, according to Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Despite the GDC’s denials, Clarke claims the DOJ had “strong grounds” for launching this probe and continuing its ongoing investigation into LGBTI treatment and safeguards.
“For example, at least 26 prisoners died by proven or suspected homicide in Georgia jails in 2020. So far in 2021, there have been 18 homicides reported,” Clarke told CNN. “Numerous additional acts of violence, including stabbings and beatings, have also been reported from Georgia prisons.”
According to Clarke, family members of detainees, as well as images and videos posted on social media about jail conditions, pervasive contraband, firearms, and gang activity, all aided in the inquiry.
“Prison staff shortages, inadequate policies and training, and then a lack of accountability,” she added, could all contribute to the alleged human rights breaches she is investigating.
“Correctional facility understaffing is a serious problem. This is a condensed version of the information.