Jackson, Mississippi - Sharalyn McClain, 29, pleaded guilty Monday to violating the civil rights of an inmate by unlawfully assaulting him while McClain was serving as a correctional officer at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility (CMCF).
The plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney D. Michael Hurst, Jr. for the Southern District of Mississippi, and FBI Jackson Special Agent in Charge Michelle A. Sutphin.
With her guilty plea, McClain admitted that, on May 25, 2016, she entered the cell of L.H., an inmate at CMCF. Along with two other correctional officers, Reginald Brown and Shelly Griffith, McClain punched, kicked, and stomped on L.H., while he laid face down, barely moving, on a mattress on the floor of his cell. McClain and the other two officers wore boots while they did this. While punching, kicking, and stomping on L.H., McClain knew that he did not pose a threat.
“A correctional officer who unjustifiably assaults an inmate in his custody betrays the trust placed in those who hold positions of power and authority,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to protecting the constitutional rights of every person and will continue to vigorously prosecute these violations.”
“Our agents and prosecutors should be commended for investigating and bringing these corrupt officials to justice,” said U.S. Attorney D. Michael Hurst Jr. for the Southern District of Mississippi. “Those who abuse their power will not escape the long arm of the law. Our office will continue to fight for and protect the civil rights of everyone.”
“Officers within our corrections facilities are critical to public safety and are sworn to uphold the safety of the inmates under their control,” said Special Agent in Charge Michelle A. Sutphin of the FBI Jackson Field Office. “In cases like this, the abuse of the authority given to them not only deteriorates the trust between inmates and the ethical corrections officers protecting them, but also that of the public overall. Civil rights investigations are a top priority for the FBI in Mississippi, and we will continue pursuing anyone that violates the rights of any Mississippian.”
Defendants Brown and Griffith previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the assault. Defendant Brown has already been sentenced to serve five years in prison. Defendant Griffith is still awaiting sentencing. Defendant McClain faces a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment. A sentencing date has been set for Feb. 7, 2020.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Jackson, Mississippi, Field Office. Special Litigation Counsel Julia Gegenheimer, and Trial Attorneys Mary Hahn and Cameron Bell of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenda Haynes of Southern District of Mississippi, are prosecuting the case.