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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.

Go deeper

DOJ reviewing Trump-era policies on trans inmate housing

Department of Justice. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Justice Department is in the process of reviewing its housing policies for transgender inmates in the federal prison system, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: Former President Trump in 2018 rolled back protections for transgender prisoners, saying that housing facilities would be assigned based on "biological sex" with gender identity being considered "in rare cases."

12 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

12 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."