Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Former Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, Sheriff’s Sergeant Sentenced for Criminal Civil Rights Violations

Former Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s sergeant, Althea Mallisham, 52, has been sentenced to 61 months in prison for civil rights convictions for wrongfully using a Taser against three detainees during separate incidents over a four month period in 2008.

On Nov. 16, 2011, Mallisham pleaded guilty to three felony civil rights offenses at which time she admitted that on separate occasions while she was on duty as a Tuscaloosa Sheriff's sergeant and acting under color of state law, she used an X26 Taser to electro-shock three pre-trial detainees as a means of punishment. In each instance, the pre-trial detainees were either restrained in handcuffs or securely locked in a jail cell. None of the three detainees posed a physical threat to any officers or other detainees when they were electro-shocked. In each instance, Mallisham willfully exceeded and abused her authority under state law.


“Law enforcement officers who abuse their power to maliciously subject those in their custody to extreme pain will be held accountable,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute those who cross the line to engage in acts of criminal misconduct.”


“Officer Mallisham took an oath to uphold the law. Virtually all of our law enforcement officers respect their oaths and the power they are entrusted with to enforce the law, and they perform their duties with honor and integrity,” said Joyce White Vance, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. “Mallisham, however, violated her oath and broke the law.  Today, she has been held accountable and sentenced to five years in prison.”

This case was investigated by the Tuscaloosa resident agency of the FBI’s Birmingham Field Office. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney D.W. Tunnage of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamarra Matthews-Johnson for the Northern District of Alabama.

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 15, 2014