Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Monday, July 8, 2013

Former Alabama Corrections Officer Pleads Guilty to Obstructing Justice in Federal Criminal Civil Rights Investigation of Beating Death of an Inmate

The Justice Department announced today that Joseph Sanders, 32, a former corrections officer of the Alabama Department of Corrections, pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in an investigation into the beating death of former inmate Rocrast Mack. 

On Aug. 4, 2010, 24-year-old Rocrast Mack was beaten by several corrections officers at Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton, Ala.  He was repeatedly struck by a baton in an office in the prison, and several minutes later he was assaulted again in the medical unit of the prison when an officer stomped on Mack’s head several times.  Mack died the following day in a Montgomery, Ala., hospital.  Following Mack’s death, Sanders lied to investigators from the Department of Corrections to cover up the fact that Mack was unjustly and brutally beaten. 

Two weeks ago, on June 25, a federal jury convicted Michael Smith, a former lieutenant at Ventress, of civil rights and obstruction of justice violations regarding this incident.  Scottie Glenn, another former corrections officer at Ventress, pleaded guilty on Nov.18, 2011, to one count of violating the civil rights of Mack for his role in the incident and to one count of conspiring with other corrections officers to cover up the beatings.  Matthew Davidson, another former corrections officer, pleaded guilty on Jan. 15, 2013, to two civil rights violations and one count of conspiring with other officers to cover up the beatings. 

Sentencing for all of the defendants is scheduled for Sept. 23, 2013.  Sanders faces a statutory maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison.

“Mr. Sanders, by his statements, attempted to conceal that Rocrast Mack’s brutal death was unjustly caused by the corrections officers to whose care he had been entrusted,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Roy L. Austin Jr. “Such actions have no place in our corrections system and the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute those who commit and cover up such crimes.”

This case was investigated by the Mobile, Ala., Division of the FBI, in partnership with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, and was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Patricia Sumner of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerusha Adams of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama.


Press Release Number: 
Updated August 26, 2015