Sep 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Justice Department investigating conditions in Georgia state prisons

Georgia Diagnostic Prison in Jackson, GA, 2002.

Georgia Diagnostic Prison in Jackson, Ga., in 2002. Photo: Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Tuesday announced a statewide investigation into conditions of prisons in Georgia, focusing on violence and abuse among inmates.

Driving the news: The investigation will focus on determining whether prisoners are provided with "reasonable protection from physical harm." It will also look at whether LGBTQ prisoners are protected from sexual abuse by other prisoners and staff.

What they're saying: “Ensuring the inherent human dignity and worth of everyone, including people who are incarcerated inside our nation’s jails and prisons, is a top priority,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in the press release.

  • “Under the Eighth Amendment of our Constitution, those who have been convicted of crimes and sentenced to serve time in prisons must never be subjected to cruel and unusual punishments,” she added during a news conference, per the Associated Press.
  • “Individuals sentenced to prison in Georgia Department of Corrections facilities deserve to be treated humanely,” Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine for the Northern District of Georgia said in the press release. “Our office is committed to ensuring state prisoners are safe while serving their sentences."

The big picture: The investigation was prompted by a review of data and other information that pointed to high rates of homicides and other violent acts in Georgia's prisons, AP reported.

  • Clarke added that the Justice Department seeks to address the effects of prison staff shortages, which can help lead to subpar supervision and lower standards of medical and mental health care, per AP.
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