Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Justice Department Files for Contempt Against Golden Grove Prison Authorities Regarding Conditions of Confinement

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Justice Department today announced that it filed a Show Cause Motion with the United States District Court for the Virgin Islands asking the Court to hold the Virgin Islands in contempt of a long standing Consent Decree regarding conditions of confinement at the Golden Grove Prison and Detention Facility in St. Croix.

A Consent Decree was filed in November 1986 that required Golden Grove to remedy unconstitutional conditions including operational and security procedures, medical and mental health care, and fire safety and environmental sanitation deficiencies. In the years following, the United States provided technical assistance to the Virgin Islands in the form of expert consultant reports, staffing needs assessments and other assistance. The United States also obtained supplemental Orders and agreements with the Virgin Islands on several occasions to implement the Consent Decree's requirements. In 2003, 2004 and 2005 the Justice Department conducted expert consultant visits at the facility and received reports, which were shared with the jurisdiction in an attempt to identify current and ongoing conditions that did not meet constitutionally mandated minimum requirements of security and safety. The jurisdiction promised remedial action, but Justice Department attorneys found that conditions at the facility had regressed in all areas. The Department found a routine history of inmate on inmate assaults, lack of correctional officer staffing in housing units, and constitutionally inadequate medical and mental health care for incarcerated individuals.

"The Justice Department has made every effort to assist the Virgin Islands in meeting its obligation to remedy the deplorable current and ongoing violations at Golden Grove," said Bradley J. Schlozman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "Today, we are simply asking the court to ensure this prison facility's compliance with constitutional standards."

In its filing, the Department asks the Court to find the Virgin Islands in contempt of the Consent Decree, supplemental Court Orders, and Plan of Compliance and further seeks the appointment of a Special Master to implement the requirements of the Consent Decree.

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