The U.S. Justice Department is State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh, which has been rocked by an inmate abuse scandal that has resulted in criminal charges against seven correctional officers, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It also is investigating the state’s Cresson prison regarding problems in treatment of inmates with mental illness.
Similar investigations have ended with agreements to improve procedures, or lawsuits by the federal government against states and counties. The Pittsburgh facility probe is under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, in response to allegations of “prisoner-on-prisoner and officer-on-prisoner violence and sexual violence, in violation of the Eighth Amendment” barring cruel and unusual punishment. Last year the Justice Department examined the Cook County, Il., Jail and reached an agreement to change what it described in a report to Congress as a “permissive culture surrounding the excessive use of force,” to improve inmate services and to hire 600 more correctional officers.