Washington — The Justice Department has begun investigating allegations of unconstitutional abuse of prisoners in Georgia. This is an extensive civil rights investigation that could force the state to overhaul the federal government’s mandate.
The agency also sees whether federal law enforcement officers can use tactics that have been widely criticized for their role in the death of blacks by local police, such as neck restraints such as strangulation and unannounced searches of evidence. , And individual restrictions on how it can be used.
The move, announced on Tuesday, has become a rallying point for criminal justice advocates, addressing the issue of law enforcement and violence in imprisonment that has caused protests and public unrest across the country.
The Georgia investigation was facilitated by records of violence in prisons throughout the state. During last year’s Wear State Prison riots on social media, hundreds of prisoners hijacked buildings, set fire, took guards hostage, and caused damage and countless injuries.
At least 26 people died in 2020, 18 murders and numerous puncture wounds and beatings were reported this year as murders were confirmed or suspected in Georgia prisons.
“Under Article 8 of the Constitutional Amendment, a person convicted of a crime and sentenced to imprisonment must not be subject to” cruel and extraordinary punishment, “” said the head of the Civil Rights Department of the Ministry of Justice. One Kristen Clark said. When announcing a survey during a virtual news conference.
Clark said the dangers of state prisons, including “contraband weapons and open gang activities,” appear to be exacerbated by a number of systematic factors. She cited shortages and high employee turnover, policy and training issues, and lack of accountability for fraud. But she said she hadn’t reached any conclusions about the allegations the department was investigating.
The investigation focuses on violence between prisoners and includes an open investigation by the department on sexual abuse of gay, lesbian and transgender prisoners by staff and other prisoners.
If an investigator in the Civil Rights Department of the Department of Justice and a federal prosecutor in Georgia determine that a prisoner is subject to unconstitutional patterns or practices, authorities may place the state’s corrections office under a consent decree. I can do it. Court and external monitors.
The Justice Department recently used a consent decree to impose overhauls on state prisons in Virginia and New Jersey.
Last year, it sued Alabama for prison conditions and accused staff of violating the Constitution by fostering a systematic culture of excessive power over prisoners. Alabama has fought under a consent decree.
Georgia officials denied on Tuesday that they systematically violated the rights of prisoners. This is often a precursor to a consent decree.
“The Georgia Correctional Bureau is committed to the safety of all criminals in custody,” said Lori Benoit, a spokeswoman for the Bureau, in a statement.
The agency’s safety efforts include “protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) prisoners from sexual harassment, sexual abuse and sexual assault,” he added.
The Justice Department has also announced a policy banning strangler figs and the use of so-called carotid artery restraints unless federal law enforcement officers are allowed to use deadly forces. It also restricted the circumstances under which federal law enforcement agencies could perform so-called knock-free entries without notice.
The policy applies only to federal police officers, so state and local police rules do not change.
However, they are famous for fueling public criticism of police and their use of force, including the death of Staten Island man Eric Garner in 2014 after police officers banned him from strangulation. Arrested directly working on infamous practices after an episode. Garner gasped and recorded on his cell phone, gasping for “I can’t breathe,” promoting the Black Lives Matter national movement, and the Justice Department refused to accuse him of civil rights, but police officer Daniel Pantaleo said. I was fired.
Last year, a Louisville police officer shot deadly a black medical worker, Breona Taylor, during a failed raid on her apartment, causing racial injustice and police on a large scale for months. Helped me start a good demo. Whether the officers announced themselves in advance was controversial and led to scrutiny of the practice of knock-free raids.
The change in Judiciary policy stems from a review of law enforcement practices led by Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco.
“It is imperative that law enforcement agencies across the Department of Justice adhere to a single standard for” strangulation, “” carotid artery restraint, “and” no knock “entry,” Monaco said in a statement. I am. “This new policy does exactly that and limits the situations in which these techniques can be used.”
Federal officials usually need to knock, identify themselves and their purpose, and request entry before entering the building. The Justice Department said they were allowed to leave the practice only if there was reason for police officers to believe that announcing themselves could endanger them.