Atlanta, Georgia 2021-09-15 05:45:00 –
Atlanta (CBS46) —The US Department of Justice has begun a state-wide civil rights investigation into Georgia prisons.
The announcement was made by Deputy Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
The investigation focuses on the harm to prisoners by other prisoners from within prisons and the violence of prison staff on gay, lesbian and transgender prisoners.
When asked why the investigation was started now, Clark said he found “significant justification” to start the investigation immediately, based on an extensive review of the available public documents and resources. rice field.
“We’ve been looking at Georgia prisons for years,” Clark said. “This is a top priority for the civil rights sector.”
They said they were able to watch some videos on social media showing both smuggling weapons and gang activity issues in some prisons leading to increased violence.
“The prisoner’s decision should not include violence from other prisoners,” Clark said at a press conference on Tuesday.
The main purpose of the investigation is to find out if prisoners have been infringed on their constitutional rights.
“We want to protect the rights of imprisoned individuals,” Clark continued.
According to the Justice Department, there were at least 26 murders in Georgia prisons in 2020, and 18 have already been killed this year. They also cited “a myriad of other violent assaults” as the reason for initiating this investigation.
The Justice Department also cited the “extreme” shortage of prison staff and the high turnover of correctors, calling these shortages “serious problems” that could lead to inadequate supervision and violence. They further stated that these deficiencies could interfere with adequate medical and mental health care, increasing the likelihood of suicide or self-harm.
“Our investigation will be independent, thorough and fair,” Clark said.
Ashley Diamond told CBS46 that he had experienced direct abuse as a prisoner in the Georgia prison system. “What’s happening to the people behind the prison wall is ridiculous, especially when it comes to the LGBT community,” Diamond said on a phone call from inside the coastal state prison in Savannah Tuesday afternoon. “What we are talking about is a unified, regulated and ugly prejudice.”
Diamond was originally convicted of robbery and sent to jail. As a transgender woman, she says she suffered during painful times as her hormones were rejected in prison and sexual assault began.
“Many of us are forced into sexual slavery just because we have been sentenced to nonviolent crimes and their absurd and nasty crimes,” Diamond said. “I have been in contact with the Justice Department for years to do something.”
Diamond sued the Georgia Correctional Bureau, which eventually changed its coverage policy for transgender inmates. After the trial, Diamond said prisoners and guards continued to abuse him when he was sent back to prison for parole violations.
“They not only waived my duty to provide me with the right medical care, but also waived your duty to protect me as a human being, I was physically raped many times. I was abused. I don’t know how many times I was stabbed and beaten, “Diamond told CBS46, adding that he is now afraid of safety in Savannah Prison.
Diamond said he was “delighted” to see the DOJ step into investigating other cases like her.
Atlanta lawyer Tyler Shermerhorn represents the family of a deceased prisoner, Bobby Thompson, who committed suicide in Phillips State Prison last year.
“He was in a cell while facing a mental health crisis,” Shelmerhorn told CBS46. “We have just come out of a family of woodworkers who are telling us not only about self-harm cases, but also about violence between prisoners. You are neglected by the guards.”
AAG Clark said the DOJ may seek a consent decree with the Georgia Correctional Bureau seeking changes.
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