Robin Smith, a former corrections officer at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Richland County, S.C., pleaded guilty today in federal court in Columbia, S.C., to violating the civil rights of a pre-trial detainee.
During his guilty plea, Smith admitted that on Feb. 11, 2012, while working as a corrections officer, he used unreasonable, unprovoked force against a restrained inmate with mental illness. During the course of a routine search of the victim’s cell, Smith twisted the victim’s wrist and arm and kicked him in the upper body. During the assault, the victim was lying on the floor of the cell with one hand cuffed. The victim was not combative and did not pose a threat to Smith.
“The overwhelming majority of correctional officers dispatch their difficult duties with honor and professionalism,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will aggressively prosecute those who cross the line to engage in acts of criminal misconduct.”
“Every minute of every day, corrections officers across this state handle extraordinarily difficult situations in a way that protects the detainees, the institution and the public,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles for the District of South Carolina. “However, when a corrections officer’s conduct crosses the line between lawful use of force and an abuse of authority, we will take that case before the grand jury.”
U.S. Attorney Nettles thanked Sheriff Lott and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department for their commitment to the investigation, without which the prosecution would have been nearly impossible. Today’s plea resulted from the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Richland County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Jared Fishman and Nicholas Murphy for the Civil Rights Division, and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Drake for the District of South Carolina.