Charleston, South Carolina – The U.S. Department of Justice has initiated civil investigations into two correctional facilities in South Carolina, following reports of numerous inmate deaths due to mistreatment and unsafe living conditions at each jail. These investigations come after allegations surfaced indicating that individuals housed at the detention centers experienced gross medical neglect, use of force, suicides, structurally unsafe environments, sexual assaults, homicides, and prevalent violence resulting in serious injuries.

   The Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston and the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia are the two facilities under scrutiny by the Justice Department’s civil rights division. The Charleston jail is facing accusations of deaths due to use of force, gross medical neglect, and suicide, while the Columbia jail is being investigated for structural unsafety, sexual assaults, homicides, and widespread violence. These jails are funded and operated individually by Charleston County and Richland County, respectively.

   The focus of the federal investigations will center on the use of isolation, use of force, medical and mental health care practices at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center, and the inmates’ living conditions at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. The goal is to determine whether there is discrimination against inmates with disabilities in Charleston and whether the Columbia jail fails to protect inmates from violence during incarceration.

   Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke emphasized the importance of ensuring incarcerated individuals are not subjected to excessive force, inadequate healthcare, or dangerous conditions while in custody. Since 2022, there have been eight reported inmate deaths at the Charleston jail and six at the Columbia jail, including cases of dehydration, violence, and medical neglect leading to tragic outcomes.

   Details surrounding specific cases, such as the death of inmate Jamal Sutherland at the Charleston jail and D’Angelo Brown at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center, highlight the dire situations faced by individuals in these facilities. Reports of mold, vermin, multiple stabbings, escapes, rapes, and injuries due to violent incidents raise concerns about the overall safety and well-being of inmates at the detention centers.

   Local officials in Charleston and Richland counties have agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department’s investigations, aiming to address the systemic issues that have led to the deteriorating conditions within these correctional facilities. The collaboration between federal and local authorities underscores the urgency of rectifying the inadequacies in the South Carolina jails to ensure the protection and rights of all those in custody.

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