The U.S. Department of Justice probes allegations of mistreatment and unsafe living conditions at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston and the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia.
Federal authorities have initiated civil investigations into two jails in South Carolina after receiving reports of multiple inmate deaths resulting from mistreatment and unsafe living conditions. The U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division launched separate probes at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston and the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia, following credible allegations of use of force, gross medical neglect, suicide, structural unsafety, sexual assaults, homicides, and prevalent violence resulting in serious injuries.
1: Allegations of Mistreatment and Neglect at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center
The federal investigation at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center will focus on the jail’s use of isolation, use of force, and its medical and mental health care. Additionally, the investigation will examine whether the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office discriminates against inmates with disabilities. Since 2022, there have been eight deaths among inmates at the Charleston jail. One inmate, Jamal Sutherland, died after being repeatedly tased and pepper-sprayed by detention center staff when he refused to leave his cell for a bond hearing. The use of force expert for the county prosecutor determined that Sutherland’s death was preventable. Another inmate, D’Angelo Brown, suffering from severe mental illness, died after spending months in isolation without receiving proper psychiatric medications. The county coroner ruled Brown’s death a homicide due to gross medical neglect.
2: Unsafe Living Conditions and Violence at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center
The investigation at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center will focus on the inmates’ living conditions and evaluate whether the jail fails to protect them from violence. Reports indicate that the facility is structurally unsafe, with allegations of sexual assaults, homicides, and prevalent violence resulting in serious injuries. One incarcerated person died from dehydration, ruled as a homicide by the coroner, while another was brutally killed by fellow inmates after the detention center failed to secure cell doors. The bodies of deceased inmates at the Columbia jail were reportedly not found for significant periods after their deaths. The investigation also aims to confirm reports of stabbings, escapes, alleged rapes, and incidents of violence resulting in injuries to inmates.
3: Commitment to Ensuring Inmate Safety and Rights
Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division, emphasized the department’s commitment to ensuring the safety and rights of individuals held in jails and prisons. The investigations seek to address excessive force, violent conditions, inadequate medical and mental health care, and dangerous physical conditions. The Justice Department is coordinating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for South Carolina, and officials in Charleston and Richland counties have agreed to cooperate with the investigations.
Conclusion: The launch of civil investigations into the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center and the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in South Carolina reflects the federal government’s commitment to addressing allegations of mistreatment and unsafe living conditions in correctional facilities. These investigations aim to uncover the truth behind the reported inmate deaths and evaluate the extent of the violations of inmates’ rights. The outcomes of these investigations will have significant implications for the improvement of conditions in jails and the protection of the well-being of incarcerated individuals.