What You Need To Know:
The United States Department of Justice announced Tuesday the launch of a civil rights investigation into Georgia prisons.

The feds will look at whether the state of Georgia provides prisoners reasonable protection from physical harm from other prisoners.

In announcing the fact-finding mission, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said the primary goal of the investigation will simply look into whether the constitutional rights of prisoners are violated. Clarke revealed the latest effort was launched after an extensive review of available public documents and resources, in which the Justice Department found “significant justification” to open the investigation immediately.

“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,” said Clarke, Assistant AG for the Civil Rights Division.

According to the DOJ, there were at least 26 homicides in Georgia prison in 2020 and 18 so far this year. The department also cited “extreme” prison staff shortages along with a high turnover among corrections officers. These shortages were cited as an “acute problem” that can lead to inadequate supervision and then, violence.

This probe is in addition to an existing investigation into whether the state provides protection for gay, lesbian and transgender inmates from staff members.

During the virtual news conference, Clarke stated, “This investigation will allow us to go in and understand facts, and if we determine that there has been a violation of the law, we’ll work with the state to try and identify a mutually acceptable resolution.”

Why We Need to Know:
Citing the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Assistant Attorney General has demonstrated that this Justice Department understands that people sentenced to serve prison time should not also be mistreated or abused.

“We must,” Clarke stressed, “ensure the inherent human dignity and worth of everyone, including people who are incarcerated.” This is especially important as legal organizations are proving that scores of men and women are unjustly serving sentences for crimes they did not commit.