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Thursday, July 10, 2008
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North Carolina Corrections Officer Sentenced on Federal Civil Rights Charges

WASHINGTONFormer corrections officer Marquis Young was sentenced today in federal court in New Bern, N.C., on federal civil rights charges related to an assault on an inmate at a corrections facility for federal prisoners. Young was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment followed by 3 years post-release supervision and was ordered to pay a $3,071.63 fine.

On March 12, 2008, a federal jury convicted Young and fellow officer Willie Powell of one count of depriving the civil rights of another while acting under color of law, one count of conspiracy, and two counts of false statements. On June 9, 2008, Powell was sentenced to 30-months imprisonment, followed by three years supervised release, and also was ordered to pay $3,071.63 in restitution.

The evidence at trial showed that on March 26, 2006, Young, Powell, and another officer assaulted inmate Demarrieo Davis at the Rivers Correctional Facility in Winton, N.C., to punish Davis for an earlier verbal altercation. During this assault, the defendants repeatedly punched and kicked Davis, including striking him after he was restrained. Davis sustained significant injuries as a result of the beating, including swelling to the head, blurred vision, intense pain, and multiple abrasions and lacerations. Shortly after the beating, Young and Powell conspired with two other officers to submit false use-of-force reports to conceal the attack. Later, on May 24, 2006, Young and Powell also gave false statements to Department of Justice special agents in an attempt to hide the assault.

"The Justice Department will vigorously prosecute law enforcement officers who step outside the law and abuse the rights of others, including those who help to cover up such abuses," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. "Unlawful behavior of this nature undermines the tireless efforts of the vast majority of law enforcement officers throughout our nation who perform their duties with honor and professionalism."

This case was investigated by Special Agents Lonnie Davis and Susan Howell from the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General, and was prosecuted by John Richmond and Jared Fishman from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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. In fiscal year 2007, the Criminal Section convicted the highest number of defendants in its history, surpassing the record previously set in fiscal year 2006. The Division has compiled a significant record on criminal civil rights law enforcement prosecutions. During the last seven years, the Criminal Section obtained convictions of 53 percent more defendants (391 v. 256) in law enforcement prosecutions than the previous seven years.