WASHINGTON – Stanley Hawkins, a former corrections officer at the White County Jail in Sparta, Tenn., was sentenced today in federal court in Nashville to 12 months imprisonment for violating the civil rights of an inmate. After release from prison, Hawkins will be on federal supervised release for one year.
Hawkins was a supervisory corrections officer at the White County Jail from November 2002 to September 2004. He was previously convicted at trial of a felony violation of federal civil rights laws by subjecting an inmate to cruel and unusual punishment in May 2004 by beating the inmate and throwing a chemical grenade into his cell as retribution for an earlier misconduct incident.
“This defendant violated the public’s trust and broke faith in the proud history of integrity and professionalism in law enforcement,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. “This prosecution demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to aggressively pursuing law enforcement officials who willfully abuse those entrusted to their custody,” Kim added.
“When inmates are confined to correctional institutions, those charged with their security are expected to abide by the Constitution and the rule of law in carrying out their duties,” said Paul M. O’Brien, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. “When an officer violates those duties by illegally abusing a prisoner, it is our duty to prosecute that officer in order to punish that illegal conduct, to deter others from engaging in similar conduct, and to preserve the public trust that honest, law-abiding officers deserve. We take seriously our duty to preserve the civil rights of all people, and remain committed to our long history of vigorously prosecuting civil rights offenses,” said O’Brien.
Hawkins’ co-defendant, former White County Jail Administrator Donald Wilson, was sentenced to a 33-month term on June 25, 2007. Hawkins was convicted of his role in the grenade incident and for confining the same inmate in a small holding cell amid human waste and requiring the inmate to be physically restrained in a strait jacket each day for period of three weeks.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as those laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. The Division has compiled a significant record on criminal civil rights prosecutions. In the past six fiscal years, as compared to the previous six years, the Criminal Section filed 25 percent more color of law cases and obtained convictions of 50 percent more such defendants.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney William Cohen and Trial Attorney Stephen Curran from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice prosecuted the case.