Robin Smith, 38, a former corrections officer at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Richland County, S.C., was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release today in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina in Columbia for assaulting a pre-trial detainee with mental illness. Smith previously pleaded guilty to violating the detainee’s civil rights.
On Feb. 11, 2012, while working as a corrections officer at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, Smith used unreasonable, unprovoked force against an inmate with mental illness. During the course of a routine search of the victim’s cell, Smith twisted the victim’s wrist and arm and kicked him in the upper body. During the assault, the victim was lying on the floor of the cell with one hand cuffed, was not combative and posed no threat to Smith.
“The overwhelming majority of correctional officers dispatch their difficult duties with honor and professionalism,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will aggressively prosecute those who cross the line to engage in acts of criminal misconduct.”
“What Robin Smith did was wrong,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles for the District of South Carolina. “At the base level, Mr. Smith kicked a man around who was so mentally ill he could not understand or follow the directions Smith was giving him. No just society can allow that kind of conduct on the part of a corrections officer to go unpunished.”
“Aggressive investigation of civil rights violations is a priority of the FBI and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure the public’s trust in law enforcement is not compromised by the type of behavior demonstrated in this case,” said FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Ann Colbert.
Today’s sentence resulted from the investigative work of the FBI and the Richland County Sheriff’s Office. U.S. Attorney Nettles thanked Sheriff Lott and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department for their commitment to the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Jared Fishman and Nicholas Murphy for the Civil Rights Division and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Drake.