The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday
announced it had opened a civil rights investigation of the Georgia
state prison system.
A focus of the probe will be the
targeting of LGBT inmates by prisoners and staff for sexual violence.
The agency will also look into prisoner-on-prisoner attacks.
According to USA Today, at least
44 inmates have died by homicide since last year.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen
Clarke, head of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, announced the
inquiry. She said that the federal investigation was prompted in part
by allegations reported by the Southern Center for Human Rights.
The Southern Center earlier this month
filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Georgia detention
“Conditions of [solitary] confinement
… are repulsive,” the group said. “Rats and roaches crawl on
people while they sleep and crawl in their food. Many cells have no
power and defective plumbing. Living areas reek of feces from
accumulated human waste in unflushed toilets, whose flushing
mechanisms are controlled by staff.”
“The conditions are so harsh and
isolating – and mental health care is so inadequate – that
self-injury and violence are common,” the group added.
Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff, a Democrat,
applauded the DOJ's announcement.
“I thank Attorney General [Merrick]
Garland and Assistant Attorney General Clarke for listening as I've
raised this issue and for taking action,” Ossoff said in a