Former South Carolina DJJ Lieutenant Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Charges
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated that Nicole Jenice Samples, age 35, of Columbia, pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of deprivation of civil rights, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 242 and 2. United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis of Columbia accepted the guilty plea and will impose a sentence after she has reviewed the presentence report, which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Facts presented at the change of plea hearing established that on January 1, 2017, Nicole Jenice Samples directed the use of excessive force as punishment for two juveniles housed at the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). In response to juveniles making noise, Samples, a Lieutenant at DJJ, ordered two of her subordinate correctional officers to apply mechanical restraints to the two juveniles, directing that the leg restraints be connected to the hand restraints, a practice known as “hogtying.” Samples physically assisted in the hogtying of at least one of the juveniles and oversaw the application of the restraints on both juveniles. At Samples’ direction, the juveniles were left in the hogtied position for over two hours as punishment and suffered pain. DJJ policy forbids the use of restraints as punishment and specifically forbids the practice of “hogtying.”
Ms. Drake stated that the maximum penalty Samples could receive is ten years imprisonment on each Section 242 offense, along with a fine of $250,000.00 and three years of supervised release.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and SLED at the request of, and with the assistance of, the Department of Juvenile Justice and Acting Director Freddie Pough. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alyssa Leigh Richardson of the Columbia office.