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Press Release

Justice Department Announces Civil Rights Investigations into Conditions in South Carolina Jails

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it has opened two separate civil investigations into the conditions in the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia, South Carolina.

Based on an extensive review of publicly available information and information gathered from stakeholders, the department has found significant justification to open these investigations. The department received credible allegations that incarcerated persons have died from use of force, gross medical neglect or suicide in the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center. The department also received credible allegations that the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center is structurally unsafe and that there have been sexual assaults, homicides and prevalent violence resulting in serious injuries.

“People confined in local jails across our country do not abandon their civil and constitutional rights at the jailhouse door,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We are launching these investigations to determine whether the jail conditions in two of South Carolina’s largest counties comply with basic constitutional standards. We are committed to ensuring that people held inside jails and prisons are not subjected to excessive force, violent conditions, inadequate medical and mental health care, and other dangerous physical conditions while in the custody of their local government.”

“Our office is committed to protecting the constitutional rights and ensuring the safety of all people in South Carolina, including those being detained or incarcerated in county detention centers,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs for the District of South Carolina. “We look forward to working with the Civil Rights Division to ensure the safety of those housed in these facilities.”

These facilities are both local jails, separately operated and funded by Charleston and Richland Counties. The Sheriff Al Cannon Detention center is operated by the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office and Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center is operated by the County through a Director.

The investigation of the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center will examine medical and mental health care, use of isolation and use of force. It will also examine whether the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office discriminates against persons with disabilities inside the Detention Center. At the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, the department will examine living conditions and whether the detention center fails to protect incarcerated individuals from violence.

Before this announcement, officials from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for South Carolina notified Charleston and Richland County officials, and officials in both counties have pledged to cooperate with the investigation.

The department has not reached any conclusions regarding the allegations in this matter. Both investigations will be conducted under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) and the Al Cannon Detention Center investigation will also be conducted under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Both statutes give the department the authority to investigate systemic violations of the rights of people confined to correctional facilities. The department’s work has led to important reforms to protect the rights of people in jails and prisons. 

The Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section is conducting these investigations jointly with the U.S. Attorney’s office in the District of South Carolina. Individuals with relevant information are encouraged to contact the department about the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center via phone at (888) 473-3201 or by email at and the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center via phone at (888) 473-4059 or by email at

Additional information about the Civil Rights Division’s work regarding correctional facilities is available on its website at



Office of Public Affairs at 202-514-2007

Updated November 2, 2023

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